By Senator disowns aide

The Force Headquarters on Saturday night paraded four persons arrested in an Abuja hotel with result sheets of last week’s ward congress in Imo State

Among the suspects was one Mr. Ipanesie Innocent, a Special Assistant to Senator Hope Uzodinma on Electoral Matters.

The suspects, who were paraded at the Force Headquarters by Mr. Jimoh Moshood, Force Headquarters’ spokesman, were picked up in a hotel located in Wuse 2 area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The suspects’ name were given as Ipanesie Innocent, 39 years, from Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State; Kelechi Alfonne, 37 years old, from Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State; Lawrence Archibong, 34 years old, from Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State and Joseph Martins, 28 years old from Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Items recovered from them, according to Moshood, were 68 pieces of APC ward congress result sheets, 130 APC ward delegate forms and 6 APC local government result sheets.

Moshood said the suspects were arrested in the early hours of yesterday in the hotel where they were lodging.

“During the course of interrogating them, they mentioned one Dr Mike Njoku who is the Zonal coordinator of Owerri Municipality to Senator Hope Uzodimma, who is a serving senator.

“The suspects were arrested in the early hours of today in a hotel called Faraji Hotel in Wuse 2 area of Abuja,” Moshood said.

According to him, “They were arrested for being in possession of ward congress materials that belong to Imo State.”

He added: ”You are aware that the Ward congress supposed to have been held in Imo State on May 5 but it was shifted because of the fact that this group and their sponsors stole the election materials and hijacked the process to an unknown destination.

“The police have since commenced investigation into the unlawful and criminal act and this is the result that we are having today. During the course of interrogating them, they mentioned one Njoku who is the zonal coordinator of Owerri municipality to Senator Hope Uzodimma, who is a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“And I equally want to draw you a little bit back to let you know that Ipanesie Innocent is the SA in Electoral Matters to the same Senator Hope Uzodimma.”

He said the Nigeria Police Force was fully determined and well prepared for the 2019 general election and their preparation was in three phases – the pre-election period, the elections proper and the post election period.

“People should know that we won’t tolerate any act of lawlessness before the election, during the election and after elections.

“On this note, the police wish to plead with the players to do what they are going to do in conformity with the Electoral Act. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, would be allowed to truncate the process.

“It is consequent upon this that the Inspector General of Police has directed the Commissioners of Police and their supervising Assistant Inspectors-General of Police across the country to ensure that the primaries that are going on in all the political parties are conducted devoid of any violence and equally ensure that any group or individuals that try to truncate the process are immediately apprehended and prosecuted in accordance with the laid down law,” he said.

However, Uzodimma has dissociated himself from the result sheets. In a statement in Abuja yesterday by the Director General of the Hope Uzodimma Campaign Organisation (HUCO), Hon. Christopher Osuala, the senator also disowned Ikpamezie who claimed to be his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Electoral Matters.

Osuala maintained in the statement that as a senator, “there is no provision for the senator to appoint a SSA on electoral matters and he never did. All staff are employed and seconded to senators by the National Assembly Service Commission.”

The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to the press conference by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Moshood, during which he paraded some persons for purportedly stealing materials meant for congresses in Imo State.

“One of the said suspects –Innocent Ikpamezie who claimed to be a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Electoral Matters to Uzodimma, is not the senator’s staff.

“As a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is no provision for the senator to appoint a SSA on Electoral Matters and he never did. All staff are employed and seconded to senators by the National Assembly Service Commission.”

The Director General alleged that the desperation of the Imo State Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha to discredit the ward congresses that were held in Imo State on May 5, 2018, obviously manifested in this apparent concoction.

“It is clear that Okorocha continues to oppose Uzodimma’s entry into the APC and had vowed openly on public media to stop the Senator’s participation in APC’s activities, otherwise how can one justify the facts that: · It was Okorocha and his aides who reportedly arrested the so- called senator’s aide with the others in a hotel and hurriedly took them to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) where they were immediately transferred to the Force Headquarters Abuja and a press conference hurriedly organised without reaching the Senator to find out whether the alleged SSA on Electoral Maters was his staff.”