Brig.-Gen. Stephenson Olabanji, the Commander, 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, on Sunday said the military apprehended 17 suspects for various election offences during the Dec. 5 governorship election in the state.
Olabanji also told newsmen in Yenagoa that the military played a support role to the police during the election in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that INEC had on Monday cancelled the result for Southern Ijaw Local Government Area citing violence while declaring the governorship election inconclusive.
The election in the council area was earlier shifted from Dec. 5 to Dec. 6 and it continued till the early hours of Dec. 7 without a clear winner.
Olabanji, however, said the election duty was coordinated through the “Operation Safe Conduct” outfit comprising all security agencies under his watch.
The commander said that in spite of the presence of the troops and other security personnel, some thugs armed with dangerous weapons tried to disrupt the smooth process of the election.
He said troops were deployed in all the eight local government areas of the state, adding that some areas like Southern Ijaw Local Government and Ekeremor were more volatile than others.
“In Ekeremor Local Government Area, three youths were apprehended with 30 PVCs suspected to be stolen from their original owners.
“Similarly, on Dec. 6, along Olugbobiri River, a speed boat carrying nine persons was intercepted carrying five AK47 riffles and some ammunition.
“The suspects were duly handed over to the Nigeria police for further investigations. “In Southern Ijaw, troops met a highly tense situation caused by members of contending political parties.
“There was also information on the high influx of arms into the communities, particularly in Oporoma, the headquarters of the local government, “ he said.
He said sporadic gunshots were later heard from Oporoma where it was discovered that unidentified rival gunmen had entered the community in an attempt to attack the INEC collation centre and hijack sensitive materials.
The commander said this led to the swift response of his security outfit to track down the materials.
“Consequently, there was exchange of fire and this led to the arrest of five suspects and the recovery of five AK 47 riffles and some ammunition,’’ he said.