From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Four counsels and five support staff of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been arrested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, ahead of their appearance at the election petitions tribunal on Monday.
Sunday Sun gathered that the four lawyers and five support staff were detained at the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Ogbunabali, but later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Town, Port Harcourt.
Counsel to the APC House of Assembly candidates in the March 18, 2023 election, Tudure Ede (SAN), raised the alarm over the arrest of his team of lawyers by the police in Port Harcourt.
Ede, who is the head of the legal team, said the lawyers were working on a petition to be filed at the tribunal against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday, April 3, when they were arrested.
He explained that the team was arrested on Sunday morning by the police operatives at a hotel in Port Harcourt and were taken to Ogbunabali police station.
Ede lamented that the police had refused him access to the lawyers and his support staff.
Ede said: “The candidates who lost instructed me, and I have also the authority of the All Progressives Congress as a party in Abuja to go and file a petition for the candidates at the Election Petition Tribunal.
“In the cause of our work, we put some of the lawyers about four of them and about five support staff in a hotel to work because of the power situation in Port Harcourt.
“The police in collaboration with the Peoples Democratic Party raided the hotel and arrested all the lawyers and support staff. They carted away the election materials used in compiling and in writing the petition and have taken them away to the police station.”
It was gathered that the items seized from them included laptops and exhibits required for their petition defence such as agent’s copy of form EC8, Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) documents.
He accused the police of working with the PDP to intimidate those in the opposition political parties in the state, and called for their immediate release.
“They (police) have taken all the form EC8s. Police should release them. Police have no business to stop anybody who feels aggrieved from going to file a petition in the election tribunal.
“The police are interfering with the process of access to court. The police are collaborating with the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State to frustrate candidates who lost the election to the PDP from going to court. You know what transpired in March 18 elections.
“We are not interested in whatever happened between two political parties. Our interest is to discharge our jobs, to discharge our functions.”
The Rivers State police command was yet to comment on the matter about the time of filing this report.