The Nigerian Army said on Tuesday that it arrested no fewer than 20 persons in Rivers, Imo and Abia states for various electoral offences including ballot box snatching.
Its spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa said the Army worked in conjunction with other security agencies to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for the conducts of the 2019 general elections.
Colonel Musa said in a statement issued in Abuja that despite the risk to the lives of soldiers especially in Rivers, the soldiers prevented thugs, kidnappers and ballot box snatchers from having a field day during elections.
Colonel Musa said: “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 every day 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 their way to disrupt election in Lekwesi community in Abia State. Items recovered from them include camouflage trousers, daggers and assorted charms.”