The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has decried the arrest of three of his lawyers, filing proceedings at the election petition tribunal to challenge the March 18 Governorship election.

Cole alleged that five support staff of the party were also arrested by the operatives.

It was gathered that the lawyers, attached to the chambers of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Tuduru Ede, were arrested on Friday night, at a hotel where they lodged in Port Harcourt.

The arrest came 48-hours after Cole led the party executive to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission to protest its refusal to release Certified True Copies of documents used during the election, which would aid the party to proceed to the tribunal.

Confirming the arrest to newsmen in Port Harcourt, on Saturday, Cole described the development as a rude awakening, saying the operatives took materials belonging to the lawyers.

Narrating the incident, he said, “I was woken up this morning with a frantic call about 7am, that our lawyers and support staff have been arrested and taken away from the hotel where they lodged.

“By the time I rushed down to the hotel, they were already gone.

“I was told they were taken to the Intelligence and Surveillance Unit in Ogbunabali (Port Harcourt).

‘I and the party agent and our lead counsel went there, and we were kept for over an hour, we didn’t see them, only to be told that they’ve been transferred to state criminal investigation department.

“I have never heard of lawyers preparing a petition that is time-bound, being arrested. More worrying is that all our evidence was taken away.

“Now, can we trust that evidence when we get it back? The lawyers were writing their brief before they were taken away. Now, the opposition knows exactly what we want to argue. I am in shock,” he noted.

While assuring that the arrest won’t stand, he insisted, “I am not leaving this place today until they are released.

“These are lawyers legitimately preparing their petitions. We cannot go to the Tribunal and tell them we didn’t meet the date because our lawyers were arrested,” the politician lamented.

Cole pointed out that Rivers State is a special case, saying, “The police cannot continue being used.

“I feel that the police are being used to scuttle us. We already have evidence of the police being used in the hijack of electoral materials on election day. The Inspector General of Police must call them to order,” he implored.

Also speaking, lead counsel to the APC and its candidates, Tuduru Ede, SAN, said it was unheard of for the police to allow themselves to be used.

Ede stated, “All in a way of scuttling the petitions. They took away all the EC8 papers and copies of election results we have collated from the agents.

“We are asking that all the arrested persons be released. We believe our stay there was compromised by the staff of the hotel,” he alleged.





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