There was palpable fear at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, following reports the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Monday Tom Udoh and two other officials were arrested for electoral fraud by a special police squad.
Fact-finding by the Nation showed that the commission’s complex located along Swali Market Road was unusually quiet with employees wearing long faces and undertaking skeletal assignments.
Though the official vehicle of the REC was not parked at its usual place, it was gathered that Udoh was in his office.
All efforts to gain entrance to his office to get his side of the report proved abortive as the personal secretary of the REC and his police orderly blocked all access to Udoh, adopting various delay tactics.
All explanations it was necessary for the REC to speak and address reports of his arrest fell on the deaf ears of Udoh’s personal secretary and the police orderly, who remained adamant refusing to grant access to their principal.
But Heads of Departments (HoDs) were seen moving into the office of the REC, who ordered his orderly not to allow anybody access to his office.
An INEC official, who spoke in confidence, said the REC summoned the HoDs for an emergency meeting adding that Udoh was not in the mood to speak to journalists.
“He is just coming from Abuja. We have read all the reports. But he is not in a good mood and will not speak to any journalist,” she said.
Udoh and two other officials were reportedly arrested by the police over alleged criminal violation of the electoral laws during the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Others said to have been arrested by the police were the Electoral Officer (EO), Mr Jude T. Nabie and Assistant Electoral Officer (AEO), Mrs Doris Asiayei, in charge of Nembe Local Government Area of the State.
The special squad of the police arrived Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital last Thursday to effect the arrest of the Resident Electoral Officer and two others.
Udoh was reportedly taken to the Bayelsa State Police command and later released on bail after making statement but was asked to report to Abuja.
The EO and AEO were said to have been apprehended in Abuja for allegations bordering on conspiracy and violation of the electoral Act.
The REC was also accused of intimidating and harassing some employees of INEC, who reportedly vowed to speak the truth at the elections tribunal.