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Electoral malpractice: Special Police squad arrests Bayelsa REC, two others

A Special Squad from the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters in Abuja has allegedly arrested the Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Pastor Monday Tom Udoh and two other officials of the Commission over allegations of Electoral Laws violation, conspiracy and indicting reports by the electoral officers who took part in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Also arrested by the Police are the Electoral Officer (EO) Mr Jude T. Nabie and the Assistant Electoral Officer (AEO), Mrs Doris Asiayei, in charge of Nembe Local Government Area of the State during the last general elections.

It was gathered yesterday that the special squad of the police were said to have arrived Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital on Thursday to effect the arrest.

Sources within the State Headquarters of INEC told newsmen that the REC was first taken to the Bayelsa State Police Headquarters and later released on bail after making a statement.

Our source said, “he was asked to make a statement and released on personal recognition but he was however asked to report to Abuja afterwards.”

It was gathered that while the Resident Electoral Commissioner was arrested in Yenagoa, the EO and AEO were arrested at Abuja.

The arrest was linked with an alleged violation of electoral laws, conspiracy and contradicting reports by the EO during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The REC was also accused of intimidating and harassing some staff of INEC in Bayelsa State who reportedly vowed to speak the truth at the elections tribunal.

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According to the INEC source “the REC and the EO were also accused of forcing some of the ad-hoc staff such as SPO’s and PO’s to write statements against what really transpired during the elections, especially in the seven wards of Bassambiri area of Nembe Local Government Area.”

The REC was alleged to have refused to release electoral materials that may assist respondents from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the ongoing sitting of the Election Petition Tribunal despite several applications to that effect.

“While the EO and the AEO respectively conspired with some SPO’s and PO’s to change the original reports of the elections for the presidential/National Assembly.”

Tribune Online gathered yesterday that the arrested Resident Electoral Commissioner and others are still in police custody at the Force Head-Quarter Abuja.

When our correspondent visited the INEC office in Yenagoa, the staff of the Commission were seen discussing the arrest but many declined to comment on the development.

A staff, who however pleaded anonymity, confirmed the development, saying the arrest was not ordered by the Election Petition Tribunal, but “the police is investigating the criminal aspect of the respondent complaints.”

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