By Obio Monday
The Rivers State Police Command has finally reacted to reports of arrest of lawyers filing tribunal processes for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State
The lawyers who were said to be preparing petitions for the Rivers State APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, against the conduct of the election in the state.
Reacting, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Grace Iringe-Koko said the lawyers were arrested after it received information that some lodgers in a hotel were seen printing INEC documents
The statement read in full:
Rivers State Police Command has been drawn to the news of the arrest of lawyers handling APC election matters. It is important to inform the public of what really happened.
On 31/3/23 at about 11.20am that some lodgers occupying three (3) rooms in a popular hotel, were seen carrying packages in and out of the rooms, and printing what seems like INEC documents (including results).
A video recording of the activities in one of the rooms was forwarded by the informant to the Police Commissioner. The information neither disclosed the identity of the lodgers nor who they were working for.
As a responsible law enforcement agency, the Police needed to act on the intelligence. Thus, on the basis of the report, the Police approached the court to obtain a search warrant. The warrant was dutifully executed on 1/4/23 at about 7.02am. In the course of the search, eight (8) persons were arrested, and several documents, laptops and printers recovered.
The arrested persons and exhibits were taken to the Surveillance Centre and later transferred to the State CID. An Assistant Commissioner of Police was tasked to lead the investigation team. It was in the process of profiling them that it was revealed that three(3) of the arrested persons were lawyers.
The APC State Chairman and the party Gubernatorial candidate in the last election showed up at the station to inform the Police that the lawyers were actually hired by the party to prepare their papers for filling at the election tribunal. Subsequently, the NBA President and General Secretary called the Commissioner of Police, who assured them that the lawyers would be released when they had finished making their statements.
Accordingly, the lawyers were promptly released on self recognizance, while the other five(5) persons were released to a reliable surety.
Meanwhile, since the investigating team lacked the technical competence to establish the veracity of the suspected printed fake INEC documents, the State REC was requested to send the Commission’s ICT personnel to inspect and identify the documents. The Police Command wishes to assure that once that is done, the most appropriate and professional thing will be done.
The Command enjoins members of the public to continue to furnish the Police with information and report every suspicious movements around them; as the effectiveness of Community Policing is predicated on collaboration and information sharing.