Tonye Cole keeps vigil at CID HQ as Police arrest, free Rivers APC Lawyers

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Rivers State police have arrested lawyers who were preparing election petitions for All Progressives Congress (APC) state assembly candidates in the state’s recently concluded March 18 elections.

However, the Rivers State chapter of the APC announced hours later that the lawyers had been released.

The spokesperson of the APC in Rivers State Darlington Nwauju said that “the lawyers were granted bail on self-recognition while the support staff were granted conditional bail”.

The arrested persons were the lawyers and five support staff. He, however, claimed the election documents and the laptops with which the lawyers were working are still being detained.

As of past 10 pm on Saturday, the Rivers APC governorship candidate for the 2023 elections, Tonye Cole, was still at the State CID headquarters. He vowed not to leave the facility until the documents are released.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had earlier condemned the arrest of the lawyers in a statement released on Saturday.

“I read the rather unfortunate and disturbing news of the arrest of three (3) of our colleagues, Jerry Aondo, Esq, Dr Sobere Nelson, and Odum Eyiba, Esq, in Rivers State,” the NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau, said in the statement.

“It was reported that the trio, who all practice in Mr Tuduru Ede, SAN’s law firm in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, were working on a petition for the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the declaration by INEC in the just concluded gubernatorial election in the state and were arrested while preparing the petition in a Hotel where they secured rooms and lodged for the purpose of the assignment,” the

“I have spoken with Mr Tuduru Ede, SAN and he confirmed the incident. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) strongly condemns such unwarranted harassment of lawyers in the lawful performance of their professional duties to their clients.

“Situations, where the instrumentality of the police is apparently being used to harass and intimidate lawyers, is a direct affront to the rule of law and a threat to our democracy; it is an invitation to anarchy and chaos, as people would rather resort to self-help than approach the civil and constitutional means provided for the resolution of disputes.

“I reached out to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioner of Police (CP) Rivers State, and I have been assured of the release of our colleagues. We shall also take up the matter to ensure that any person(s) including police officers, who may be found complicit in the events leading to the arrest of our colleagues, is sanctioned for any possible abuse of office.”