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Group alleges harassment of Akwa Ibom REC by SSS, APC

A group under the auspices of the Public Interest Lawyers League has accused the State Security Service of unduly harassing the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner, Austin Okojie

In a statement signed by its president, Abdul Mahmud, the lawyers said the ill-treatment was connected to the interest of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom’s natural resources.

Mr. Okojie was arrested seven days ago and detained by the SSS, who later asked him to report daily to their office for interrogation.

According to the lawyers, upon reporting to the office on Friday, Mr. Okojie was subsequently arrested without any evidential purpose of the arrest.

The group says it has cause to believe that Mr. Okojie is being held incommunicado following the directives of the APC.

It noted that previous reports from the APC had alleged that Mr. Okojie had acted criminally during the elections and caused damages to electoral materials.

The group said the allegations were inappropriate and added that the APC had no right to conclude that Mr. Okojie’s actions were criminal without proven evidence.

“Clearly, there is something going on beyond what the APC has placed in the public domain that points to a more sinister motive at discrediting the Akwa Ibom governorship election outside the adjudicatory precinct of the election tribunal”, the statement said.

“Akwa Ibom state presents itself as a special interest case to the powers at the centre,” the group said.

“How else can one explain the decision of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to relocate the sittings of the Election Petition Tribunal to Abuja, thereby doubling the pains of election petitioners,” the lawyers queried

“Power in our country is inexorably linked to oil. Akwa Ibom, a rich oil state, is thus thrust into the very vortex of power politics by the mere fact of resource endowment,” the group said.

It alleged that the acts of intimidation by the APC were to serve as a threat to the ruling party in the state, the PDP.

“It is to forestall attempts by the PDP to stage Akwa Ibom as its power Renaissance post that draconian and utterly repressive measures and steps are being taken by the APC to snatch the state away from PDP’s control”

The group alleged that the APC’s actions were targeted at forcefully taking over power in the state.

It asked President Mohammadu Buhari to call the SSS to order.

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