Nigeria Opposition Party Says Rivers State Governor Detained

Nigeria’s main opposition party said one of its governors was detained by security agencies and two others were barred from traveling to campaign in local elections held this weekend in southwestern Ekiti state.

The convoy of Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi, a member of the All Progressives Congress, was stopped today at the border between Ondo and Ekiti states, the APC said in an e-mailed statement.

Amaechi has now been released, though the aircraft he traveled to Akure in has been impounded, Ibim Semenitari, the commissioner of information for Rivers state, said in a text message. She said he had earlier been “held hostage commando-style by soldiers and federal government security agents.”

Edo state Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s helicopter was refused permission to take off from Benin city airport, while a plane flying Kano state governor Rabiu Kwankwanso wasn’t allowed to land at Akure in Ondo state, the APC said, calling the acts “illegal.”

The ruling People’s Democratic Party is facing a mounting challenge before elections next year from a unified opposition party after a series of defections. The PDP has won all general elections since military rule ended in Africa’s biggest economy in 1999. Amaechi joined former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and six northern governors in August to quit the PDP, causing the party’s biggest-ever internal conflict.

‘Great Interest’

Frank Mba, the national police spokesman, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone seeking comment, while military spokesman Chris Olukolade’s phone was switched off.

Olisa Metuh, a spokesman for the PDP, didn’t answer a call or immediately respond to a text message. President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone.

The U.S. will be watching the Ekiti election “with great interest,” according to a statement on the website of the country’s embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

“A well-conducted election in Ekiti that is free of violence and that accurately reflects the will of the voters would both constitute an important demonstration of the credibility of the electoral system as the February 2015 elections draw closer,” the embassy said.

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