el-Rufai freed after 15hrs in SSS custody

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The State Security Service released the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, in the early hours of Tuesday after quizzing the ex-minister for about 15 hours.

El-Rufai, who reported to the SSS Abuja office at about 9.30am on Monday, was released some minutes after midnight.

The bail conditions of the All Progressives Congress chief was not known as of the time of filing this report.

The former minister was summoned by the SSS for what the security agency described as provocative and inciting comments.

El-Rufai was reported to have said there would be violence if the 2015 elections are not free and fair.

The State Security Service on Monday detained a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir el-Rufai at its headquarters in Abuja.

el-Rufai, who is the interim Deputy Publicity Secretary of the opposition All Progressives Congress, was accompanied to the SSS headquarters by Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Chris Ngige.

Amaechi had said that he was mandated by the leadership of the APC to accompany the ex-minister. Other party chieftains, including the APC national secretary, Tijani Tumsah, one of the ex-minister’s wives and his lawyer.

Amaechi spent about one hour inside the SSS premises before he left. Ngige, who spent about four hours, left the SSS premises around 3pm. An attempt to speak with him by journalists was aborted by SSS operatives who asked everyone to leave the area.

The SSS had invited el-Rufai to its office last Friday over a statement in which he said there would be violence during the 2015 elections.

But the former minister declined to honour the invitation, saying he had instituted a suit against  the service for detaining him during the governorship election in Anambra State. He asked the agency to either meet him in his office or produce a Warrant of Arrest.

El-Rufai, in an interview with journalists moments before he entered the SSS office on Monday, explained that he did not honour the invitation earlier as there was no warrant, adding that the SSS had no power to compel him to come to its office because of the statement he made.

He said, “The SSS has provided the Warrant of Arrest and shown it to my lawyer on Friday and I said to my lawyer that we will come here this morning (Monday).

“It is all about politics, it is all about 2015, this is just an attempt to intimidate and silence opposition for crying out that elections are likely to be rigged; I will continue to speak and they will continue to arrest me until we get free and fair election in Nigeria.”

He said that he had the right under the country’s constitution to make the statement for which he was invited.

“There is nothing I have said that history has not shown. I said elections should be free and fair; if they are not free and fair, there is likelihood of violence. This has happened in our history in 1964, 1983, 1993 and 2011, so what is strange about that. Anybody that doesn’t know that is either not reading history or just ignoring history,’’ the APC chieftain insisted.

El-Rufai, while inside the SSS office tweeted, “Inside SSS headquarters. They are now saying Governor Amaechi and Senator Ngige will not be allowed into the building after walking 500 metres….impunity.”

El-Rufai said his sin was that he demanded that elections be free and fair. According to him, his persecution by the SSS is all about the 2015 elections.

The former minister said there was nothing wrong or new about his comment because the nation’s history is replete with post-election violence.

Citing instances of post-election violence, the APC chieftain recalled that there were crises after the 1964, 1983, 1993 and 2011 elections.

El-Rufai said the Federal Government planned to silence whoever opposes the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) plans to rig next year.

The former minister stressed that he would speak out until elections are free and fair.

He said: “I think it’s because I sued the SSS for detaining me unlawfully in Awka during the governorship poll. I think that is the main reason. Of course, I think they have found other reasons because there is nothing I said that history has not shown.

“I said the election should be free and fair. If they are not free and fair, there is likely going to be violence. These are certain facts; at least four times in history – in 1964, 1983, 1993 and 2011. So, what is strange about that? Any person who doesn’t know these does not know history or he is just ignoring history.

“This is all about 2015. This is just to intimidate and silence the opposition against crying out that the elections are likely to be rigged by the PDP. I will continue to speak and they can continue to arrest me until we get free and fair elections in Nigeria.”

El-Rufai said he declined arrest at the weekend since the SSS had no warrant.

The former minister explained that his lawyer, yesterday, notified him that security operatives were in possession of a warrant of arrest.

According to him, the SSS has no power to force him into their office since the constitution empowers him to make a statement.

Describing his invitation as an embarrassment, the former minister added that “embarrassment is part of life.”

El-Rufai noted that whoever contravenes the law must face the consequences.

“I believe the SSS has no power to compel me to go to their office because of the statement I have a right under the constitution to make.

“Look, embarrassment is part of life. It does not matter; embarrassment is part of life. All I want to say is that whoever violates the law or does anything against the constitution should face the consequences. We will pursue our rights in court and in the court of public opinion.”

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