The Rivers State Police Command has given reasons why its officials arrested three lawyers filing proceedings at the election petition tribunal for the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress.
It also said five APC support staff working with the legal team to challenge the outcome of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state were picked alongside the lawyers early on Saturday morning in a hotel in Port Harcourt.
A spokesperson for the State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed this in a statement issued on Sunday morning and sent to newsmen.
Iringe-Koko said the arrest followed a tip-off that some unknown lodgers were seen carrying packages in and out of the rooms and printing suspected election materials.
The police statement was titled, “Re-arrest of lawyers handling APC election petition.”
It reads, “The attention of the 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 11.20 am, information was received that some lodgers occupying three 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, based on the report, the police approached the court to obtain a search warrant.
“The warrant was dutifully executed on 1/4/23 at about 7.02 am. In the course of the search, eight persons were arrested, and several documents, laptops and printers were recovered.”
The statement further reads, “The arrested persons and exhibits were taken to the Surveillance Centre and later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department.
“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 of the arrested persons were lawyers.
“The APC State Chairman and the party governorship candidate in the last election showed up at the station to inform the police that the lawyers were 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 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.”
Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, enjoins members of the public to continue to furnish the police with useful information and report every suspicious movement around them.
She added, “The effectiveness of Community Policing is predicated on collaboration and information sharing.”