The police command in Cross River has arrested 12 suspected cult members in Obudu Local Government Area of the state ahead of the August 11 bye-election for Obudu State Constituency.
Presenting the suspects to journalists on Thursday in Calabar, the Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, said the suspects were arrested for parading themselves in Obudu with the intention to disrupt the election.
Mr Inuwa said the suspects were arrested with dangerous weapons by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the command.
“These hoodlums are cult members. They were arrested irrespective of party affiliation because they were in Obudu to foment trouble.
“From our investigation, the 12 of them are cult members. Two of them are very notorious cult members who have been on our wanted list.
“Mcslow is a very dreaded Viking member and Ubong is a dreaded skylo member.
“We knew that they were going to Obudu to commit crime because their voters’ registration centre is not in Obudu.
“They were arrested with three live cartridges; one revolver pistol and a locally made one. They were ostensibly going to Obudu to commit crime.
“Any miscreant, political party or individuals with the intention of causing trouble to thwart the peaceful conduct of this election will be arrested and prosecuted,’’ he warned.
He further said that the command had earlier arrested 10 persons in Obudu who were also disrupting the peace of residents in that area ahead of the election.
The commissioner said that the police would create a peaceful atmosphere for the electorate to come out en masse and cast their votes.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy also says it has arrested four suspected members of a notorious cult group, Debam, said to have been robbing sea travellers of their valuables.
Ikenna Okoloagu, the Base Operation Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder (NNS), Port Harcourt, paraded the four suspected cultists to reporters on Thursday.
He said the suspects were arrested by a naval patrol team deployed to end killings and other criminal activities in its host community of Rumuolumeni.
“This decision to heighten our security patrol follows the recent spate of reported killings in Rumuolumeni community and other forms criminality in the state.
“The patrol team was tasked with the responsibility to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful atmosphere within the state.
“So, in the course of the patrols, on August 8 at about 0845 hours, the base patrol element arrested four suspected sea robbers and members of the dreaded Debam cult group,’’ he said.
The officer said that the suspects were apprehended at their hideout at Iwofe waterfront with a locally made pistol and four live cartridges found in their possession.
“Additionally, controlled and banned substances such as cannabis (Indian hemp) and tramadol were found in their possession.
“The suspects were immediately brought in for questioning and they later confessed to being members of the Debam cult group.
“They are hereby being handed over to the police,” he said.
Mr Okoloagu, a commander said the hand over to the police was done in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures that spelled out roles for security agencies in combating illegalities in the oil and gas sector.
One of the suspects, who admitted to the crime and pleaded for leniency, said he was recruited into Debam cult by a friend when he was 19 years.
“I joined the group when I was in my Senior Secondary Three level at Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni, in 2015.
“Immediately, I joined Debam, I started saving money and later bought the gun (locally made pistol) for N15,000 for my ‘protection’. The gun is mine but I have not shot or killed anybody with it,” the 22-year-old said.