by Oge Okonkwo
Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, is said to still be in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) after more than 12 hours of questioning on Monday, over his comments on electoral violence in 2015.
Three days earlier, a search for Mr. El-Rufai was launched by the agency after which an arrest warrant was issued. Accompanied by the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, and a serving senator, Chris Ngige, El-Rufai voluntarily walked into the SSS headquarters at about 9 a.m on Monday.
According to Premium Times, Mr. El-Rufai still remained at the SSS headquarters as of 9 p.m.
Premium Times reports:
It remained unclear if he would be made to spend the night at the facility.
The source said Mr. Amaechi, who was also allowed access into the SSS office, later left at about 12 p.m, while Mr. Ngige left two hours later.
One of Mr. El-Rufai’s wives, who accompanied him, also left subsequently as she was disallowed access to her husband, the source said.
“His wife left because she was just kept within the premises but not where he is,” the source said.
Mr. El-Rufai’s lawyer, A. U. Mustapha, however remained with the former minister and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, APC.
The SSS said the former minister’s comment about violence was “provocative” and warned that those making inflammatory remarks might be prosecuted.
But Mr. El-Rufai has denied any wrongdoing, saying his position was only based onNigeria’s electoral history.
Mr. El-Rufai had gone underground Friday after the SSS launched a manhunt for him after he failed to honour an invitation from the agency in connection with his remarks at a conference in Abuja on Wednesday that there might be violence if the 2015 general elections were not credible.
The former minister declined the invitation citing his pending suit against the Service over his detention in a hotel in Awka during the Anambra State Governorship last November 16 as reason.
Mr. El-Rufai also insisted on seeing a warrant of arrest before he could report to the SSS office.
On Friday, operatives of the SSS stormed two properties believed to belong to Mr. El-Rufai, looking for him.
At the second property late on Friday, the SSS operatives insisted they wanted to deliver the warrant to Mr. El-Rufai personally, ignoring entreaty by his lawyer that the document should be handed over to him.
The opposition APC has condemned the SSS for haunting its deputy national secretary, saying the comments attributed to the former minister were not inciting in any way.
Mr. El-Rufai himself said he would resist ploys by the SSS to silence him.
“Mallam El-Rufai will not be silenced,” the former minister said through his media advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, Friday. “He will continue to do his patriotic duty of challenging INEC and the security agencies to guarantee the climate for free and fair elections in Nigeria by desisting from partisanship and the embrace of impunity.