There is palpable tension in Rivers State as security operatives raid criminal hideouts in search of small arms in the state.
The coordinated operation is being carried out by a combined team of security agents including the Nigerian Army, the Police and the officials of the Department of State Services in flash points ahead of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in the State.
In days leading to Saturday’s elections, security agents have reportedly raided Club Houses, Lounges, Hotels, Sit Outs and communities based on intelligence reports.
Though, there has been no announcement by any of the security agencies of how many people have been arrested, it was gathered that majority of those picked-up were supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In one of the operations, men in military uniform invaded the palace of a former warlord and ex- Niger-Delta agitator, King Ateke Tom, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Though Ateke Tom escaped, the men in military uniforms broke into the palace and ransacked the building, killing one armed man who tried to pull the trigger.
Besides the raids on pubs in Port Harcourt, the security agencies extended to the creeks of Ogu, Andoni, Ahaoda-West, Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru where three soldiers and a Lieutenant was killed.
Also, checkpoints have been mounted at major locations in and around Port Harcourt with security agents conducting stop and search on commuters and passersby.
Security has also been beefed up between the GRA Junction-Waterlines stretch of Aba Road where the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC office is located.
State Commissioner of Police, CP Usman Belel corroborated this during a media briefing with newsmen in Port Harcourt.
“In order to regulate and curtail the activities of mischief makers and provide a conducive environment for people to exercise their franchise unhindered , the Inter- Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ( ICCES ) after her meeting yesterday, agreed to place the following Restriction Orders :-
“That there will be total restriction of movement of persons, vehicles, boats, vessels or any mechanically propelled engine both on land and waterways, between the hours of 12 midnight on Friday 8/3/2019 to 6pm on Saturday 9/3/2019 except those on essential duties or duly authorized by law and eligible voters.
The stretch of Waterlines to GRA junction on the Port Harcourt Aba Expressway will be closed to all road users on both lanes from 12 midnight Friday 8/3/2019 till further notice. The public is hereby advised to avoid this Stretch, as there will be diversion of movement from GRA junction and at the waterlines junction,” he said.