THE Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, on Wednesday, said the 486 people arrested by security operatives in Abia, on Sunday, were travellers.
The coordinator said the arrest of the travellers was not targeted at any group of persons or individual, but done in view of the general security situation in the country.
He said when the suspects were interrogated, one of them, who had been on the watchlist of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) since 2007, was identified.
Omeri said the incident further led to the questioning of the suspects, who were travelling in “a convoy of over 30 buses, with none of them having up to N1,000.
“Clearly, their mission was suspicious and had to be thoroughly investigated; we, therefore, appeal for the understanding of the public in allowing our security agencies carry out their legitimate duties.’’
On June 21 governorship election in Ekiti, the coordinator said contrary to reports, the DSS did not arrest any person in the state over alleged thumbprinting of ballot papers ahead of the poll.
JNI condemns arrest of the 486 Northerners
Meanwhile, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) has condemned of the arrest of the 486 northerners in Abia, saying that the arrest was a crackdown on innocent Muslims and called for their immediate release.
The JNI Secretary General, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said in a statement made available to journalist in Kaduna, on Wednesday, that they were” jolted by the arrest of 486 passengers near Aba, Abia State, by the Nigerian Army of the 144 Battalion.”
“We don’t support any acts of criminality, insurgency, violence or extremism. These acts stand condemned. But why the sudden arrest of innocent Muslims who go about lawful business in their own country? Is it simply because of their identity as Muslims? Would it be healthy to set this type of precedent in Nigeria?” the group queried.
Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) condemned the “indiscriminate act of arrest”of 486 northerners in Abia, on Sunday.
ACF, in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim and made available to journalists in Kaduna, on Wednesday, said the arrest was based on faith and origin.
“While ACF is not against operations designed to checkmate the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, it, however, condemns in strong terms, arrest on account of appearance, faith and origin. This is because such an action will make innocent and law abiding citizens of a particular origin or faith to suffer unduly in the hands of security operatives,” it said.