Sunday, 28th May 2023

Police raid black spots, arrest 32 suspected ‘cultists’ in Rivers

By Obinna Nwaoku, Port Harcourt
07 February 2023   |   4:02 am
The Rivers State Police Command said its operatives raided black spots and apprehended 32 suspected cultists involved in cult-related activities in the state.

• Atiku support group kicks over unlawful arrest of supporters
• Supporters arraigned in court

The Rivers State Police Command said its operatives raided black spots and apprehended 32 suspected cultists involved in cult-related activities in the state.

The Command, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, said the raid happened on Friday, February 5 at about 1:30 p.m.

Iringe-Koko noted that that the arrest had nothing to do with political meetings, adding that all the 32 suspects have been profiled and 12 of them have already been released.

She said: “On February 5, 2023 at about 1:30 p.m. the Command arrested thirty-two persons from two hideouts in connection with suspected cult-related activities. The arrest is not related to any political meeting.

“Those arrested are presently being profiled and twelve of them have already been released. Lately, because of the incidents of cult clashes, the Police Command has carried out targeted raids of criminal hideouts in Rivers State. She also noted that all others found to be clean will be released soonest while those found guilty will be charged in court.”

However, a group known as Atiku Support Organisation in a press statement has demanded the immediate release of over 30 of their members arrested by the police.

According to the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dr. Victor Moses, who narrated that early Sunday, at about 2 p.m., armed police officers in about six Toyota Hilux marked Intelligence Unit whisked a good number of their supporters away.

He alleged that the police officers, who were acting on the instruction of Rivers state Governor Nyesome Wike surrounded plot No 3 popularly called White House in Omerelu Street, by Salvation ministries Headquarters, G.R.A. Port Harcourt, where State and Local Government leaders of the Atiku Support Organisation were holding meetings as part of the preparation for the Peoples Democratic Party presidential rally slated to hold on February 11, 2023.

He said: “Realising the armed men were sent to stop the meeting, some members escaped through the fence sustaining wounds caused by barbed wire, while over 30 of our members, state and local council leaders, most of whom are women were arrested and taken away in two white Hilux of the intelligence unit, while about four Hilux vehicles with heavily armed police have sealed up the meeting venue. The said No. 3 Omerelu Street, GRA is directly behind the Presidential hotel Port Harcourt. None of the lines of the arrested ones is going through.

“We, hereby, demand Governor Nyesom Wike releases our Rivers state executive members with immediate effect. Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike must end his do-or-die politics of bitterness and stop instigating violence in Rivers State against Atiku Abubakar’s supporters. We call on the inspector general of police to, immediately, order the release of our members and put an end to the political rascality going on in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to avert Governor Wike’s instigated bloodbath in the state during the election.”

Meanwhile over twenty of the suspects have been arraigned before a magistrate’s court sitting in Port Harcourt.

The suspects were arraigned on counts of conspiracy, cultism, and unlawful gathering.

When the case was mentioned in court, Chief Magistrate Collins Ali, following the fact that the charge was said to be moved on ex-parte application, did not allow the charge to be read or plea taken but directed that the cases file be transmitted to the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for advise and information.

Chief Magistrate Ali after refusing bail application by the defence counsel thereafter directed that the suspects be remanded in Nigeria Correctional facility before adjourning to the 22nd of March, 2023 for bail consideration.