Home » Latest Politics » El-Rufai ‘Invited’ For Questioning, Not ‘Arrested’, Says SSS

El-Rufai ‘Invited’ For Questioning, Not ‘Arrested’, Says SSS

 

El-Rufai1

No, He Was Arrested – Aide

THE State Security Service (SSS) yesterday faulted reports of alleged arrest of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, saying that he was merely invited to explain the “distorted” figures he published in a national newspaper regarding public expenditure.

El-Rufai had, in an article — “What Nigerians Pay FG” — which was published last Friday, given a breakdown of the 2011 budget, and claimed that the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Police and the Defence Ministry would spend a total of N865 billion, amounting to an average of over N2 billion per day.

While casting aspersion on the high cost of governance, he wondered whether government’s N4.485 trillion budget would make life any better “or even provide security for Nigerians.

But the source at the SSS yesterday said the overall expenditure of the security service and the NSA does not, in fact, exceed N100 billion. The source put the projected expenditure of the SSS at “about N23 billion”; the NSA, N40 billion, while the Presidential fleet of the Service takes just a few billions of Naira.

The SSS explained that El-Rufai’s invitation could not be tantamount to arrest, since “the disjointed figures” he bandied in the media were capable of creating levels of insecurity in the country and, therefore, needed to be explained.

An online publication had broken the story yesterday morning, saying that El-Rufai was arrested “at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja by men of the State Security Services” on arrival from London on a British Airways flight, which landed around 4.40am.

According to the report, “just as the former minister came out of the aircraft, he was apprehended and whisked away by the SSS operatives to their headquarters,” as instructed by the Director General of the Service, Ita Ekpeyong.

Almost immediately, the Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, demanded the immediate release of El-Rufai, describing the alleged action as a “brazen act of intimidation, harassment and flagrant violation of citizens’ right in a democratic atmosphere.”

But an official statement issued, later, by the Assistant Director, Public Relations of the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, yesterday confirmed that El-Rufai was “intercepted” at exactly 0500 hours of Saturday in relation to his recent articles in the cyber and print media.

“At 0500 hours of 2nd July, 2011, Mallam Nasiru EL-RUFAI, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was intercepted on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“This became necessary following Mallam EL-RUFAI’s recent articles in the cyber and print media, which have been considered by well-meaning Nigerians to be inciting, inflammatory and grossly misleading. For instance, his column on the back page of 1st July 2011 edition of Thisday newspaper titled “What Nigeria Pays FG” clearly attests to this.

“It is pertinent to note that the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI BILL) has been passed into law, yet he refused to cross check his facts before publishing. He rather chose to misinform the public with mischievously orchestrated data with the intent of causing disaffection among the populace thereby subverting Government.

“It is expected that the former Minister should have been more circumspect against the backdrop of current security challenges in the country.

“Nigeria belongs to all of us and no one should take laws into their hands as no one is above the law,” Ogar concluded.

However, El-Rufai’s Media Advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, yesterday evening alleged that he the former Minister was “kept incommunicado,” as “all efforts to establish contact with him have since proved abortive and the SSS has given no word to his family and lawyers who have kept vigil.

“El Rufai was returning from a week-long trip to the UK, where he attended the Chatham House presentation by General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the CPC, who discussed recent events in Nigeria. He also visited his kids schooling there, “the statement explained.

“Feelers indicate that the immediate trigger for his arrest is his disclosure in his Thisday column of Friday, 01 July 2011, that the National Security Adviser (NSA) was allocated N208 billion in the 2011 budget. This figure is in the 2011 Appropriation Act, which is a public document.

“Bringing a information in the public domain to the people cannot by any stretch of the imagination be a crime, even if it embarrasses security chiefs who, on the evidence of insecurity in the land, are not delivering value despite securing tidy budgetary allocations.

“If the facts in El Rufai’s article, What Nigerians pay FG, are wrong in fact or context, that cannot be remedied by a denial of liberty. The government should simply publish its alternative narrative, and let the public decide.

“Mallam El Rufai has not done anything illegal by encouraging discourse about what our government costs us. He has been outspoken about his concerns regarding the direction the current government is taking this country, and he has written critical pieces on this matter on Nigerian and international media platforms. ”

“Free speech is a constitutional right, and it implies the obligation by the state to defend even those whose views are not congruent with the powers that be. El Rufai’s views have been opposed by commentators more sympathetic to the Jonathan government. That is the way civilised discourse ought to go in a democratic country, not an illegal resort to arm-twisting and harassment.

“El Rufai’s family and friends demand his immediate release and a halt to the growing instinct for intolerance.

-Guardian

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Posted by on Jul 2 2011. Filed under Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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