This may not be best of times for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Rivers State, Dame Gesila Khan, as she was allegedly arrested by security operatives in Port Harcourt on Tuesday in a Gestapo-like fashion.
It was gathered that she was questioned by the State Security Services, SSS operatives over her role in the conduct of the recent general elections in the state and thereafter detained in an underground cell with nobody having access to her, including her family and lawyer.
Her present travail is said to be instigated by members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, who are said not to be happy with the party’s woeful performance at the March and April elections which the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidates winning with landslide in both state and National Assembly elections.
While former President Goodluck Jonathan roundly defeated his closest opponent and incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Nyesom Wike defeated the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Dakuku Peterside in the gubernatorial election. PDP also won majority seats in State House of Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives.
However, the APC has insisted that the elections were rigged in favour of the PDP and is at present challenging same in electoral tribunals.
Sources within the state said based on promptings from the Presidency, the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, recently invited the State REC, Mrs. Khan to his office in Abuja where she was allegedly quizzed for hours on her refusal to allow the APC access to election materials as ordered by the state governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja.
Angered by her invitation, the PDP Caucus in the National Assembly, last week petitioned the Director of Department of State Security, DSS in Rivers State, over the invitation of Khan by the IGP.
Nigerian Pilot also gathered that Khan was quizzed last Thursday by the SSS but was later released to report back on Tuesday after the Sallah public holidays.
She was said to have been detained on reporting on Tuesday and as at the time of going to press last night her whereabouts was still unknown.
However, the state Public Relations Officer of INEC, Mrs. Tonia Nwoye, when contacted, stated that Khan was never arrested. She however did not give further details on whether she was being detained by the SSS as being speculated or not. She also refused to disclose the REC’s whereabouts as she has not been seen in her office this week. Already, some of her family members have raised the alarm over her safety, with calls to the DSS Director-General to either release the woman or charge her to court
Efforts made by the Nigerian Pilot last night to confirm the development from the DSS proved abortive. When contacted, a source in the Public Relations Unit of the DSS Headquarters in Abuja declined to comment on the matter. Instead, he told our reporter to refer any inquiry on the case to the Acting Director-General of DSS.
Rivers Assembly condemns arrest, harassment of INEC officials
Meanwhile, the Rivers State House of Assembly has condemned the arrest and harassment of Khan, and other senior officials by the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
The Assembly, in a press statement issued yesterday, titled: “Protest over Undue Interference in Rivers State Election Petitions Pending before the Election Petition Tribunals”, expressed displeasure against the DSS action, stating that the arrest of the REC under any guise was uncalled for.
The statement, which was signed by 31 lawmakers and read before journalists by the Speaker, Ikuinyi Ibani, called on the DSS to desist from further arrest and intimidation of any official involved in election petitions in the state.
“We, the undersigned members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, hereby, for ourselves and on behalf of the entire good people of Rivers State, that we represent, express our deepest worries and displeasure against the undue interference and meddlesomeness in the political affairs of Rivers State and the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
“We have watched with dismay the way and manner the Directorate of State Security (DSS) has been intimidating and harassing electoral officers connected with or handling matters relating to the 2015 general elections held in Rivers State, as well as the election petitions.
“We have it on good authority that the Rivers State REC, Mrs. Gesila Khan, and her officers were orally invited to DSS office in Abuja and she honoured the invitation with her senior officers on Tuesday, July 22, 2015, only to be arrested and detained till about 10pm on Wednesday, July 23, with further instructions to report to the DSS daily.
“It is important to state that Section 2, sub-Section 3 of the National Security Agencies Act, Cap. 74, 2004, has defined the functions of the DSS, which are limited to crimes bordering on the internal security of the country such as insurrections. Again, we make bold to say that INEC is a party at the Election Petition and the arrest of Mrs. Khan under the guise of preventing breakdown of law and order is not only laughable, but condemnable.
“It is wrong for the State Security apparatus to be used to intimidate parties concerning pending matters in court or any tribunal using all kinds of allegations three months after elections. We, therefore, call on the DSS to desist from further arrest or intimidation of any official involved directly or indirectly in the election petitions,” the statement read.


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