Tonye Cole, Rivers APC gov candidate’s Lawyers arrested


Rivers APC gov candidate, Cole, decries arrest of his lawyers


Tonye Cole, the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Rivers State, has condemned the arrest of three of his attorneys, who filed proceedings with the election petition tribunal to contest the March 18 Governorship election.


Cole claimed that five party support staff members were also arrested by the agents.



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It was reported that the lawyers attached to the offices of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Tuduru Ede, were arrested at the Port Harcourt hotel where they were staying on Friday night.


The arrest occurred 48 hours after Cole led the party executive to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission to protest the commission’s refusal to release Certified True Copies of election-related documents, which would have allowed the party to move forward with its case before the tribunal.



On Saturday in Port Harcourt, Cole confirmed the arrest to the press and described the development as a rude awakening, stating that the agents seized the lawyers’ property.


“I was awakened this morning at 7 a.m. by a frantic phone call informing me that our attorneys and support staff had been arrested and removed from the hotel where they were staying,” he explained.



“By the time I hurried to the hotel, they had already departed.


“I was informed that they were transported to the Intelligence and Surveillance Unit in Ogbunabali” (Port Harcourt).


We were told that they had been transferred to the state criminal investigation department after being kept for over an hour.



“I have never heard of attorneys preparing a time-sensitive petition being arrested. Worrisomely, all of our evidence has been removed.


Now, can we have faith in the returned evidence? Before being taken away, the attorneys were writing their briefs. Now, the opposition is fully aware of our arguments. “I am stunned,” he stated.



While assuring that the arrest will be overturned, he insisted, “I will not leave until they are released.”


“These are attorneys who are legally preparing their petitions. “We cannot tell the Tribunal that we missed the deadline because our attorneys were arrested,” lamented the politician.



Cole noted that Rivers State is an exception, stating, “The police cannot continue to be utilized.


“I believe the police are being used against us. There is already evidence that the police were involved in the theft of election materials on election day. He pleaded with the Inspector General of Police to call them to order.


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Tuduru Ede, SAN, lead counsel for the APC and its candidates, stated that it was unprecedented for the police to allow themselves to be utilised.


Ede stated, “This is all in an effort to scuttle the petitions. They removed all EC8 documents and copies of election results that we had compiled from the agents.



“We are requesting that all detainees be released. We believe that the hotel staff compromised our stay there,” he claimed.


Grace Iringe-Koko, the state police command’s spokesperson, could not be reached on her mobile phone despite repeated attempts.


In the meantime, as of the time this report was filed,


She had not yet responded to a text message sent to her mobile.


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