*Operatives attacked, injured in Kaduna
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
No fewer than 65 persons were arrested yesterday by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) across the 28 states where governorship and state House of Assembly elections were conducted for alleged voter inducement.
They also intercepted 35 bales of fabrics meant for voter inducement in Sokoto State.
However, the commission’s operatives on election monitoring duty in Kaduna State attacked School Road, Unguwan Rimi Kaduna, while attempting to arrest a suspected vote buyer.
The bales of fabric allegedly belonged to a principal officer of the Sokoto State House of Assembly.
The items have been moved to the Sokoto Zonal Command of the commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
In nearby Kebbi State, precisely Argungu Local Government Area, the EFCC team on election monitoring duties also intercepted a suspect with a vehicle fully loaded with fabrics and other items suspected to be earmarked for voter inducement.
The suspect was handed to the Police Area Command at Argungu for safekeeping alongside the vehicle and the items while the team proceeded with election duties.
In Kaduna State, the team led by ACE II Esmond Garba arrested one Buhari Muhammed in PU 002 Dogara Yaro Dagari area. He was arrested with voter coupons, which he confessed would be used to trace and pay those who voted for his party.
Furthermore, the team monitoring the voting exercise around LEA Kabala Doki, Kaduna, led by CSE Wakilu Omokide, also arrested two suspected of buying votes.
Upon their arrest, a total sum of N67,500, a list containing voters’ names with their PVC numbers and bank account details, amongst others, were recovered from the suspects.
In Port Harcourt, the election monitoring teams arrested 10 suspects in Port Harcourt alleged to be involved in voter inducement at Moscow Road, Elekahia, Township, Mile 2, Ward 2 polling Unit 2 and 30, Ogbum, PHALGA, Port Harcourt.
The suspects were arrested with A4 papers with the names, telephone and account numbers of persons suspected to be voters. Also, two youths who were alleged to be involved in voter inducement were arrested at Ward 2 Polling Unit 2 and 30, Ogbum, PHALGA, Port Harcourt City.
The vigilance of the monitoring teams also paid off in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where two ladies and six men were arrested at different locations (Moscow Road, Elekahia Township, and Mile 2) for alleged involvement in vAoter inducement.
The suspects were arrested with A4 papers with the names, telephone and account numbers of persons suspected to be voters.
The suspects have volunteered statements to the anti-graft commission.
In Kwara State, operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Office paraded 20 persons for alleged vote-buying during yesterday’s poll.
During the governorship and House of Assembly elections, the commission said the suspects were arrested in parts of Irepodun, Ilorin West, and Ilorin South Local Government Areas of the state.
Parading the suspects, Acting Commander, Ilorin Zonal Office of the commission, Mr Michael Nzekwe, said the commission acted on credible intelligence to carry out the operation.
Nzekwe added that “most people arrested were directly involved in vote-buying. Our mandate at the commission is to eradicate money’s influence in politics.
“We got credible intelligence, and we acted on the intelligence. Some arrests were made in Omu-Aran, Ilorin South, and Ilorin West. We were all over the 16 local government areas.
“We recovered huge amounts of cash and Point of Sales (POS) machines. We are still investigating the matter,” he explained.
He, therefore, said: “After the investigation, we will strictly follow the provisions of the law.”
The four persons arrested at different locations in Calabar by the team from Uyo Zonal Command, led by CE Binta A. Rano, are currently volunteering their statements at the Criminal Investigation Department, Cross River State Police Command.
The team arrested one Esther Asuquo Edem, the Woman Leader of one of the political parties for Ward 11, Calabar South, Cross River State, and two others, Edet Okon Etim and Asanwana Peter Eyo, for alleged vote buying in Calabar.
The Woman Leader, who had a list of suspected voters, their account numbers, and Thousands of Naira in cash, was apprehended inside an uncompleted building beside her Ward in Calabar South. At the same time, Etim and Eyo were arrested at Ward 12, Unit 11, at Kings Memorial School by Inyang Street, Abasi Obori, Calabar South.
The duo of Etim and Eyo had with them their lists and money they allegedly used to buy votes.
In Gombe State, the Zonal Command, led by ACE Faruk M. Dogondaji, made 10 arrests for alleged voter inducement and recovered 43 pieces of wrappers and N 1 923,900 cash.
Investigations are still ongoing to determine the culpability of each suspect.
However, some operatives in Kaduna State attacked School Road, Unguwan Rimi Kaduna, while attempting to arrest a suspected vote buyer.
A statement by EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said the team, working on intelligence on the alleged activities of one Kabiru Musa who was seen in an amateur video allegedly inducing eligible voters by using his phone to transfer money into their accounts as they cast their votes, had mobilised to the scene to arrest the suspect.
However, immediately after the operatives accosted him, Musa became unruly and screamed to attract the attention of his syndicate members, who descended on the operatives, using all weapons that left some of them injured. It took great restraint for the operatives to ignore the unprovoked attack but insist on arresting the suspect.
As the team drove away with the suspect, their vehicle was pelted with stones and other dangerous objects that damaged the windshield. Three operatives suffered varying degrees of injuries in the process.
The injured operatives are receiving medical attention at the Medical Centre of the Kaduna Zonal Command, while the suspect is in custody, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
It would be recalled that EFCC teams were similarly attacked during the presidential and National Assembly elections, leaving some of its vehicles badly damaged.
Reacting to the incident, the Executive Chairman of the commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, commended the operatives for exercising great restraint under extreme provocation.
He, however, appealed to the public to desist from attacking officers of the commission as such action would no longer be tolerated.
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