Joe Effiong, Uyo

Political thugs who number was put at 166 have been allegedly arrested while making their way into Akwa Ibom State from Edo State. The suspects were believed to be mercenaries and thugs to be employed for Saturday’s elections by politicians in the state.

Sources said the arrested thugs were been accommodated inside the conference hall of the police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo.

Similar sources said the busses the thugs rode in were parked behind the Godswill Akpabio Hall conference hall. They were allegedly being driven to Uyo when they were intercepted by the police.

Our correspondent gathered that the hoodlums who almost filled the hall to its capacity were secured by some men of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), one of them a superintendent of police alleged to be a cousin to Senator Godswill Akpabio. The officers are preventing anyone from getting close to the hall.

The buses the thugs came to town in were also seen parked behind the conference hall of the police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.

The suspected thugs were said to have been arrested on Tuesday night at Obot Akara, Akwa Ibom State, with manifests bearing their names, phone numbers and their next of kins. They allegedly confessed that they were mobilised by a certain Tony Kabaka, a known thug many believe works with a top official of the APC.

The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole during a presidential Thanksgiving visit in the state, had threatened that APC would recover all the lost mandates during the last presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Now, many in Akwa Ibom fear that the suspected thugs were ferried into the state to cause havoc and create a crisis to warrant a postponement of the elections.

The thugs were said to have departed Benin City in the early hours of Tuesday, en route Uyo, but were intercepted at the Obot Akara axis on the Ikot Ekpene-Umuahia road. The suspects were taken from Obot Akara to Uyo by security forces where they are currently camped.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has raised the alarm that APC was hiring thugs from other states to distabilise the state.

“Even as we are preparing for the forthcoming elections, the APC has sought for help from Edo State, using Adams Oshiomhole as the liaison, to recruit armed political thugs ferried in 53 buses.

“Those thugs were led by Tony Kabaka and Osakpamwan, alias ‘No Molest.’ They have also mobilised touts to start peaceful protests that will snowball into violent unrest in Uyo, the state capital. They have also purchased and sneaked in weapons of different dimensions,” Ini Ememobong, the Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state said in a press statement.

There were speculations that the suspected thugs would be released based on orders from above.

The spokesman of the APC in the state, Mr Nkereuwem, Enyong Ekere, when contacted to comment of the allegation that his party was sponsoring the thugs, said that he was in a mechanic workshop as such could not speak from there.

He asked our correspondent to call him back in about half an hour. When he was further contacted, he did not take his calls.

Meanwhile, police authorities, however, have not made any statement concerning the arrest as at the time of going to press.

When our correspondent visited the office of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama, he was not available for comments. When our correspondent called on the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Odiko MacDon, he was not in the office. He did not take several calls put to him to give clarification on the recent developments in the state.

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