Some supporters of Atiku Abubakar in Rivers State arrested allegedly on the order of Governor Nyesom Wike, may not take part in the general elections as they have been remanded at the Correctional Centre till 22 March.

The over 20 members of Atiku Support Organisation were arraigned before a Magistrate Court in the state on Tuesday, our correspondent reported.

The Chief Magistrate, Collins Ali, refused to grant them bail and ordered their remand. The case was adjourned to 22 March for a hearing on their bail application, which would be over a week after the general elections.

Members of the Atiku Support Organisation were arrested by police officers who invaded their meeting venue in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the group, Victor Moses, in a statement on Sunday, said they were in a meeting to plan for the 11 February PDP presidential rally in the state when armed police officers invaded the meeting venue.

The arraignment came a day after Governor Wike directed security agencies in the state to clamp down on cultists and militants whom he claimed were masquerading as political support groups.

The governor in a state broadcast on Monday denounced what he described as the “rising cases of cultism during the electioneering period.”

He said: “Apart from committing heinous crimes, cultists masking as party support groups and thugs are used by rival party leaders to assault opponents and disrupt party meetings, especially in those political parties with protracted internal crises arising from their flawed primaries.

“I wish to warn that no responsible government will close its eyes to the threat posed by these cultists, fanatical party support groups, and their sponsors to free and fair elections in the State.

“Consequently, I have directed the security agencies to raid any suspected area or premises and clamp down on cultists, militant support groups and other miscreants being used by politicians to disturb the peace, safety and security of the State.”

Governor Wike has been at loggerheads with the national leadership of PDP after the presidential primary of the party last year which he lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

The governor fell out with Atiku for reneging on an alleged promise to ensure the exit of the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, so that a southerner can lead the party for the sake of a “regional balance”.

Atiku and Mr Ayu are both Northerners.

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