By Anayo Okoli

UMUAHIA—A Head of  Department at Abia State headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and another staff (names withheld) have been arrested by Zone 9 Police Headquarters, Umuahia, for allegedly being in illegal possession of seven card reading machines.

The two staff  were said to have smuggled the card readers out of INEC office and were taking them to unknown destination when they were stopped at the commission’s gate.

Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Professor Selina Oko, confirmed the incident and expressed surprise that his staff could remove such sensitive material from the commission’s strong room without permission.

The REC explained that they were caught by the security at the commission’s headquarters on Monday evening as they were trying to drive out with the materials.

She said the AIG Zone 9, Usman Gwarri, sent his men to arrest the suspects, who she said were now under investigation by the police.

She said: “The police should conduct proper investigation and take the right action. I am in charge and they are taking things out without my permission.

“Even I, as the REC, do not take sensitive materials away from the office except it is demanded by my chairman in Abuja.”

The AIG Zone 9, Usman Gwarri, however, said it would be too early to conclude what they wanted to do with the card readers or to establish any case of crime until investigation was concluded.

Mr. Mike Chidi Ahiabike, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Head of Intelligence and Surveillance, said the party had been monitoring the INEC staff and security personnel since election results were declared.
He alleged that the suspects were working for a particular polictical party.

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