Men of the Nigerian Army arrested at least 15 suspected ballot box snatchers and political thugs during the last Saturday governorship and House of Assembly elections in Imo and Abia states.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, said this in a statement on Tuesday.
Musa said soldiers who achieved the feat were attached to Operation Safe Conduct.
He said the operation was to checkmate “criminals, political thugs and ballot box snatchers from having a field day.”
He, however, regretted that the military lost some personnel during the operation in the Abonema and Andoni areas of Rivers State.
He said four suspected ballot box snatchers were arrested by the troops in Everyday Super Market in Owerri, Imo State.
He identified the suspects, who were arrested in military uniform, as Chinedu Odogwu, Longinus Okelue, Oguzie Princewell and Kelvin Samalia.
According to him, the suspects were arrested while escorting a prominent female politician in one of the political parties’ vehicles.
He added that troops of the 34 Brigade arrested six other suspected ballot snatchers around the Osisioma Junction, Abia State.
He said their leader, identified as Allwell Enwereji, and five accomplices were seen conveying ballot papers in his vehicle.
Musa said Enwereji claimed that the ballot papers were specimens for campaign.
Musa said investigations were ongoing to ascertain the culpability of the suspects.
He added that troops on patrol intercepted some suspected ballot box snatchers in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State.
On sighting the troops, the suspects were said to have abandoned their vehicle and ran into the bush.
Items recovered from them included one Toyota Sienna Bus, one pump-action gun with 11 live cartridges, Permanent Voter Cards and Automated Teller Machine cards with different names.
Also in Abia, the troops arrested five political thugs in Lokpanta.
They were said to be on their way to disrupt the elections in Lekwesi community.
The army’s spokesman, however, said despite the violence recorded in a few states, the elections were conducted in a largely secure atmosphere.
He said, “The army in conjunction with other security agencies struggled to checkmate criminals, kidnappers, political thugs, ballot box snatchers from having a field day to perpetuate their selfish illegal activities.
“These specific incidents across some states, if unchecked, could have caused serious security breaches across the country during the elections.”