#RiversRerun: Five Suspects Arrested Over Attempted Electoral Interference

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have arrested five suspects for attempting to disrupt the December 10, 2016 re-run elections in Rivers State, the force’s public relations officer announced on Wednesday.

In his press release, DSP Don N. Awunah praised the police officers deployed to the polling stations for preventing widespread violence, saying that the election was, from a security perspective, “a huge success.”

“The pre-election predictions of plausible and imminent violence was forestalled by the massive deployment of security personnel and logistics, creative engagement of stakeholders, robust interagency collaboration and effective discharge of election duties, coupled with transparency and accountability displayed by the security agents,” Mr. Awunah said. Previous elections in Rivers State have been afflicted with violence, but this time around, police were adequately prepared to protect the integrity of the elections.

While the poll was largely conducted peacefully, attempts were made to instigate violence and disrupt the election, he explained. Five persons accused of such were promptly arrested.

Mr. Awunah disclosed their names to the press: Noble Nwaerema, Dike Deinpiribo, Valentine Alalibo, Onwunari J. Warmate, and Iloke Stephen.

According to the PRO, these suspects were found with stolen Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) materials and weapons.

The recovered INEC items included: one green INEC bag, eight ballot paper booklets, one INEC Accreditation Incident Report forms, one statement of results booklet, one “blood stained” APC agent ID card.

Among the recovered weapons and ammunition recovered were one AK-47 rifle, one assault rifle, six magazines, and 112 rounds of live ammunition.

Mr. Awunah explained that Noble Nwaerema, 33, was arrested by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives along Rumusi Elele. The suspect said the youth president of the Itu-Ikwere community hired him, along with eight others, to steal INEC materials in Emouha Local Government Area.

The four other suspects arrested are members of a cultist group and are “professional political thugs,” Mr. Awunah said. They were responsible for several armed attacks that were carried out in Abonnema, Emuoha, Elele, Eteche, and Omoku

Mr. Awunah added that some security personnel were also arrested for “professional misconduct” that jeopardized the integrity of the electoral process. He assured the news media that a high-powered investigative panel is currently investigating these gross violations of police conduct.

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