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Gunmen free 14 of 18 kidnapped corps members in Akwa Ibom

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[FILES] Shadow of a gunman

Gunmen yesterday freed 14 of the 18 kidnapped National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), who served as ad hoc staff in the weekend’s presidential and federal legislative elections in Akwa Ibom State.

According to the breakdown, 10 were abducted in Abak, four in Itu and another four in Ikono, just as two others were mistakenly arrested by the police.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, who confirmed the development in Uyo, stated: “At Abak, 10 corps members that were abducted were released yesterday, and at Itu, four others were also kidnapped.”

In Ikono, he said: “That is one of the areas they smashed several polling units. They have a total of 11 polling wards, they destroyed about 10. And four corps members that were kidnapped were released.”

Igini said the other two arrested in error equally regained their freedom “after my interaction with the Commissioner of Police as the fact before us showed that it was an honest mistake of using one paper for another. It was not deliberate, materials were mixed up.”

In a statement, the REC charged all electoral officers (EOs) that “due and diligent attention must be given to the filling of Form EC 40G.”

He stated that “this means that constituency EOs must insist on taking all field reports made and captured by the commission’s electoral operations support centre (EOSC) of snatched result sheets and ballot and all necessary documents must be carefully studied.”

Igini further warned that “no results can emanate from polling units, wards and LGAs where there had been previous reports of serious violent attacks of polls officials many of whom are still being rescued, particularly corps members, and snatching of results and ballot papers taken to unknown places.

“The integrity of the process leading to a declaration of results and returns must go through the crucible of due process. There are severe consequences under the law for deviation and so be guided.”

However, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the state command, Odiko MacDon, said: “I am not aware of any abductions. There was no abduction. I just spoke with state NYSC coordinator and there is no report of any corps members missing anywhere. We have not received any report that they were abducted.”


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