The army said on Friday in Port Harcourt it arrested six suspected political thugs and recovered arms and ammunition from them after soldiers raided their hideout.

Brig.-Gen. Koko Essien, the Commander of 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, who told newsmen that the suspects were arrested after a prolonged exchange of gunfire, explained that the raid was part of efforts to make the environment safe for people to go out and vote.

He said that one suspect, who fled the scene of the shootout with multiple gunshot wounds would soon be apprehended as soldiers were currently on his trail.

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“We want you (newsmen) to have a view of many things we have been doing in other to take out as much arms as possible from the streets and make the environment safe for people to go out and vote.

“Based on information available to us, we have been conducting series of raids in areas a concentration of hoodlums and political thugs.

“Yesterday (Thursday), we raided a location popularly known as Barracks in Mile 3 (Wimpey) area based on information we got and we recovered arms and ammunitions.

“We arrested six suspects – one was shot and he is in the military hospital receiving treatment.

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“We recovered two AK 47 riffles with 176 rounds of (live) ammunitions, seven magazines, some (144) raps of Indian hemp, money (N298, 500.00), and 10 cell phones from the criminals.“

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Essien said that troops had been deployed to flash points to tackle any form of electoral violence during and after the Governorship and House of Assembly elections on Saturday.

According to him, the military will stop at nothing to make sure that the streets, city, hinterlands and waterways are protected to enable people to go out and vote candidates of their choice.

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Reacting, the suspected leader of the gang (names withheld), said he was not among the thugs who had engaged security agents in a shootout on March 28, the day the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held.

He denied ownership of the arms, saying that only 144 raps of Indian hemp were recovered at his apartment during his arrest.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a soldier and two persons were shot dead during a shootout between security agents and suspected political thugs on March 28. (NAN)

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