There was commotion at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, Saturday, as supporters of Governor Nyesom Wike, foiled an attempt by armed operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, to arrest one of the witnesses that testified before the court. Over 15 operatives of the DSS, stormed the tribunal which is conducting its proceeding inside the premises of an Abuja High Court at Apo around 11:30am Saturday.
While some of them positioned themselves at the entrance to the court, others mounted sentry at strategic positions within the high court premises.
Though the unusual presence of the armed operatives hyped tension within the court, people quickly rationalised that maybe they were brought to secure the proceeding of the tribunal in view of the multiple bomb blasts that rocked different parts of Abuja the previous night.
However, their mission became obvious immediately the first witness that testified before the tribunal yesterday, Mr. Emannuel Philips, stepped out of the court room.
Mr. Philips who had told the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led panel that he is a retired DSS Commander, was accosted by the armed operatives who told him that he was under arrest and made attempt to whisk him away in one of their vehicles.
On sensing what was happening, some supporters of governor Wike quickly intervened and maintained that the witness would not go anywhere with the armed operatives.
The commotion that ensued outside the court premises attracted more supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who were inside the tribunal where another witness had already commenced his evidence-in-chief.
It took the intervention of lawyers yesterday to calm the situation, even as Wike’s supporters insisted that the DSS operatives should produce an arrest warrant that was issued against the witness by a competent court.
Eventually, the DSS operatives who were said to have stormed the tribunal yesterday at the behest of the petitioners- the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, freed the witness and he was escorted out of the court premises by both Wike’s supporters and some lawyers.
Nevertheless, it could not be confirmed whether he was eventually arrested as the armed operatives quickly followed the vehicle that took the witness, with their own convoy.
Similar incident had also occurred on Friday when attempt by plain clothed policemen to arrest an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Mr. Akuki Kenneth who also testified before the tribunal, was resisted by lawyers.
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