The Nigerian Army has continued to dislodge criminal gangs in Omoku, River state, following the terror that was unleashed in parts of the state during the December 10 rerun elections.
It was confirmed that 15 people were horrifically murdered including a soldier, two policemen, four personnel of the Civil Defence Corps and eight civilians, while ammunition, weapons and vehicles were taken away by the bandits.
The General Officer Commanding 6 division, Major General Kasimu Abdulkareem, disclosed this while parading arms, ammunition and other items recovered from some of the criminal dens.
Abdulkareem, explained that the operation is in continuation of a clean-up exercise to recover and mop up illegally acquired weapons from cultists and militants who continue to terrorise communities and some parts of the country in general.
Collation of results is ongoing at various federal and state collation centers for the national and state assembly elections in Rivers State.
Elections are also expected to be concluded in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of the state in south-south Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had released an interim statement rescheduling the conclusion of the rerun election in 14 units spread across wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Akuku Toru LGA for Sunday from 12 noon.
INEC said it was taking stock of the situation in other local government areas where collation was underway.
Meanwhile, the fall out of the election has triggered reactions from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
While the PDP claimed that the APC in connivance with the military and the police were obstructing the process in their favour, the APC maintained that the presence of the military brought the excesses of many politicians under control.
The PDP spokesman in Rivers State, Samuel Nwanosike, had also alleged that the military and INEC were obstructing the process in Ikwere, Emohua and Andoni LGAs of the state.
The Nigerian Army has denied allegations of intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes and killings leveled against it during the Rivers state re-run elections which took place on Saturday.
The General Officer Commanding 6 division, Major General Kasimu Abdulkarim, said the alleged killing and mass arrest by soldiers in Tai and Gokana local government areas of the state were not only false but a calculated attempt to tarnish the image of the army as well as wipe public sentiment.
The GOC who spoke in the early hours of Sunday, noted that although his soldiers provided perimeter defense to ward off armed hoodlums and miscreants, the Nigerian Army remained apolitical.
The Major General said there were three explosions in Bedlam in Abonema, five NYSC members were abducted and rescued while two police officers were killed, among which was a senior officer who was beheaded.
According to him, “Nigerian army troops were in no way involved in the escort of politicians as alleged.
“They acted swiftly in response to security breaches in order to enforce the law, provide aid to the Nigerian police and other security agencies especially in areas like Abonema, Etche, Gokana, Ikwere, Eleme, Tai, Khana and Omoku amongst others.
“Susceptibility of mentioned areas warranted providing security for the electoral officials, voters, international and local observers, in conjunction with other security agencies by soldiers for a peaceful election to thrive in the environment.
“These areas were rift with armed men who engaged security personnel. In gokana, armed hoodlums engaged the soldiers providing outer perimeter defense for the electorates”
The GOC went further to explain that “at Emohua, Mr Oblewaremu abducted five NYSC members with election materials in a Siena bus. The corps members were later rescued and the suspect handed over to the police.
“Nigerian army as a respected institution with constitutional responsibilities to safeguard lives and property,” he stated.