Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Rivers State have recovered 31 Electronic Card Readers (ECRs) believed to have been stolen from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The SRCs were recovered in a bush on Rumuji-Emohua axis of the East-West Road in the Southsouth state. They were allegedly thrown into the bush by thugs who were fleeing to escape arrest.
The thugs were believed to be working for one of the major political parties.
SARS yesterday notified the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Obo Effanga, seeking for more information and the cooperation of the commission and its officials to ensure detailed investigation.
A top official of the SARS in Rivers, told our reporter in confidence on the telephone that the hoodlums, who drove in a brown Toyota Camry saloon car around 9am on Saturday, were given a hot chase by operatives of the squad, making them to escape, after throwing a bag containing the 31 card readers into the bush.
The SARS chief also revealed that operatives of the police formation continued to search the bush, leading to the later discovery and recovery of the 31 stolen card readers, which was revealed by intelligence as perpetrated by political thugs.
According to the SARS’ top official, the recovered card readers were still in police custody.
It was also learnt that the hoodlums’ car left Port Harcourt for communities in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers to perfect their rigging plans, unaware of 11th hour postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Rivers SARS, in a letter to the REC of INEC in the state, with reference number: AR:3000/RVS/SARS/RVS/VOL.8/272, dated February 16 and received/signed yesterday at 8 a.m. by an INEC official, titled: “Investigation Activities. Re: Stolen and recovered INEC Card Readers by ASP Monday Mathias and Team,”was signed by Rivers Commander of SARS, Mr. Akin Fakorede, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).
The letter reads: “The above-named detective and team are serving members of this formation and are investigating a case of suspected stolen/recovered INEC’s card readers.
“You are kindly requested to assist the team in the course of the investigation. Attached herewith are the serial numbers of the INEC’s card readers for ease of reference. Accept the best assurances of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police (Usman Belel), please.”
When contacted for his reaction through the telephone at 7:45pm yesterday, the REC of INEC in Rivers, said: “I am still expecting the investigating SARS operatives to come to INEC office in Port Harcourt, for further details.”
The MTN line of the Director of Information and Communications of Rivers PDP Campaign Council, Emma Okah, who is also the state’s Commissioner for Information and Communications, was not available from 7:55pm yesterday.
When contacted at 7:59 p.m. the Rivers PDP’s Publicity Secretary, Darlington Orji, said he was not aware of the recovered card readers, “talk less of knowing if they were recovered from PDP members.”