March 9 Polls: Army arrests 24 for ballot snatching, impostors, rescue kidnap victims


Some of the arrested ballot boxes snatchers with card readers in their hands.

*States how it supported civil policing for peaceful, credible polls

The Nigerian Army says it arrested no fewer than 24 suspects in connection with electoral offences during the Saturday 9 March 2019 Governorship and House Assembly elections in Imo, Abia and Cross River states.

Giving a breakdown of the suspects in a statement on Tuesday, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, said 15 of the culprits were arrested in Abia State.

Musa said of the 15 suspects, five were political thugs, arrested at Lokpanta while on their way to disrupt election at Lekwesi community.

The army spokesman said camouflage trousers, daggers and assorted charms were recovered from them.

He said the other six suspects were arrested at Osisioma junction while they were conveying already thumb printed ballot papers in a vehicle.

The statement read: “During the periods of the 2019 General elections, Nigerian Army (NA) supported the Civil Police to ensure a secure and peaceful conduct of the elections across the nation. Despite pockets of crisis witnessed in few states, the election was conducted in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

“To achieve this, the NA in conjunction with other security agencies struggled to checkmate criminals, kidnappers, political thugs, ballot box snatchers from having a field day to perpetuate their selfish illegal activities, in some instances at the detriment of soldiers’ lives as witnessed in Abonema and Andoni in Rivers State.

“Specific instances abound where kidnappers and other hooligans were intercepted by the personnel of the NA in many parts of Nigeria. For example, around Everyday Super Market in Owerri , Imo State, 4 impostors in military uniform (Woodland camouflage), – Mr Chinedu Odogwu, ,Longinus Okelue , Oguzie Princewell and Kelvin Samalia were arrested while escorting a prominent female politicians in a political party vehicle.

“This development further reaffirmed NA’s earlier warning to members of the public of the activities of some unscrupulous individuals that sponsored thugs to depend and further their selfish political objectives.

“Accordingly, 34 Brigade troops on Operation SAFE CONDUCT deployed around Osisioma junction, Abia State also arrested Mr Allwell Enwereji and five others conveying already thumb printed ballot papers in his vehicle.

“On questioning, he claimed the ballot papers were specimens for campaign. Investigation is on to ascertain the culpability of the suspects.

Similarly, troops on patrol around power plant substation Odukpani LGA, in Cross River State rescued Mr Authur Nkama who was earlier kidnapped at Ikot Ansa, in Calabar Municipal Area Council, Cross River State.

“Troops also intercepted and arrested suspected ballot box snachers at Airforce junction near Ngor Okpala LGA in Imo State on the 9th of March 2019. On sighting the troops, the suspects abandoned their vehicle and run into the bush. Items recovered included one Sienna Bus, one pump action gun with 11 live cartridge, voters cards and assorted ATMs bearing different names.

“In another development, troops also rescued INEC Staff abducted by hoodlums at Ohafia Technical College in Anna Village in Abia State on the 9th of March 2019. Four of the suspects have been arrested while efforts are on to apprehend other fleeing members of the gang.The suspects have been handed over to the police for further action.

“Similarly, five political thugs were nabbed at Lokpanta, on the 9th of March 2019 while on thier way to disrupt election in Lekwesi community in Abia State. Items recovered from them include camouflage trousers, daggers and assorted charms.

“Accordingly, below are some pictures of specific incidents across some states that if allowed could have caused serious security breaches across the nation. Some of these photographs are already trending in the social media.”

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