By Abasi Ita, Calabar
A melodrama drama ensued at Cross River State Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force last weekend, when a suspect flared up during a media parade, accusing the Police of a clandestine attempt to level trump-up charges against them for political reasons
The event was the routine parade of crime suspects arrested by the Police in recent times over spurious allegations as a prelude to formal arraignment in court for commencement of trial
Speaking, the Command spokesperson who addressed journalists disclosed that the 16 suspects were arrested in Ogoja, Cross River North for various electoral offenses
According to SP Irene Ugbo “the suspects who were caught with arms and ammunition were arrested in Ogoja after the Presidential and National Assembly Elections”
Ugbo stated that their arrest followed a diligent manhunt for those that disrupted the electoral process at some Polling Units within the council area during the polls.
“It would be recalled that the Command had issued several warnings to the people not to allow themselves to be used by desperate politicians during the elections and that anyone caught will have himself to blame.
“These people you see here didn’t take our warning seriously and they are some of the people that tried to disrupt the elections in Ogoja last Saturday.
“They were caught with various arms and ammunition in Ogoja and they will be punished by the law of the land,” she stated.
The command spokesperson alleged that the suspects were bankrolled by a member of the opposition party for selfish and ulterior motive
However the briefing was interrupted when some one of the suspects vehemently accused the Police of blatant lies and political motives.
One of the suspects , Friday Ubi revealed that they are card carrying members of the All Progressives Congress APC and a local vigilante group in Obudu armed and detailed by the Council Chairman for specific assignments during the election.
The suspects revealed also that they were arrested in Obudu not Ogoja and transported to Calabar without knowledge of the offense they committed.
Mr. Francis Ubi who claimed to be a coordinator of the APC in his polling unit in Obudu, explained that they were randomly picked by the soldiers in Obudu a day before the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
According to him, “We were brought here on trump-up charges. I do not belong to any political party other than the APC where I coordinate my polling unit in Obudu.
“As I speak with you, over N500,000 was transferred to my account to coordinate my unit during the elections and I am also a member of the vigilante. I have five others of my members here who were also arrested.
“While I was arrested in my house in Obudu, others were arrested at a check points set by the Council Chairman in Obudu while on duty.
“We were arrested at our duty posts assigned to us to be keeping security by the Council chairman who also approved the use of specific guns for us.
“I don’t understand what is happening here. Police should not attempt to use us for politically motivated jobs.Those being paraded with us I don’t know any of them and only came to meet them here as we are being paraded.
“We (Vigilante) have been the ones keeping Obudu safe because of the level of insecurity there in recent times. We don’t understand what we are been accused of.”
Ubi said that after his arrest, he was taken to Army Barracks at Ogoja where he spent days before they were brought to the Police Command in Calabar on Friday.
The PPRO Ugbo, said that the suspects would be arraigned in court next week