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Standoff with SSS: APC throws weight behind El-Rufai •I won’t be intimidated, says ex-minister

By News Express on 25/01/2014

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has thrown its weight behind its Deputy National Secretary, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, in his standoff with the country’s secret police, the Department of State Security (DSS), otherwise known as State Security Service (SSS).

APC in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, “strongly condemned the harassment” of the former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, describing as “a shameful overkill the storming of his residence in Abuja by armed DSS operatives on Friday, without producing any arrest warrant.”

APC expressed shock that the DSS was seeking to arrest El-Rufai “for merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech.”

It said there was nothing inciting or extraordinary in the statement credited to El-Rufai that there might be violence if the 2015 general elections were not free and fair.

“'What our Deputy National Secretary said is a statement of fact and should not warrant any harassment, unless of course the DSS is saying that the 2015 general elections will not be free and fair,” APC said, adding:

“'The statement is a matter of cause and effect and amounts to a patriotic call for the 2015 general elections to be free, fair and credible. If this statement now rankles the DSS, then the department has a lot of explanation to do to convince Nigerians that it was not engaging in a witch-hunt, considering the case instituted by Malam El-Rufai against it (DSS) over his illegal detention in a hotel in Akwa during the Anambra governorship poll last November.”

It wondered why the DSS has “suddenly found its agility, after playing dead when people like Chief Edwin Clark, Asari Dokubo and Chukwuemeka Ezeife issued a direct threat to Nigeria's continued existence over President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition.

“The DSS is free to join the police in becoming a partisan and compromised national institution, but it should weigh the consequences of such action on its long-term credibility.”

El-Rufai has meanwhile vowed not to be intimidated into silence by the SSS, also insisting on a search warrant before he could obey the SSS’ summons. A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by his Media Advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, said:

“Armed SSS officials on Friday stormed the Abuja residence of Mallam Nasir el Rufai. This follows his rejection of the attempt by the SSS to compel him to come to their offices without a valid warrant. El Rufai had on Thursday firmly told the DG SSS that he would be exercising his right not to go to the SSS offices, except a warrant mandates it. He however offered to meet the SSS officials in his home or office. The armed invasion of his house is a clear indication that the SSS imagines itself as an agency immune from respecting fundamental rights, behaviour akin to a gathering of toughs before whom every citizen must quake.

“The SSS agents did not produce any warrant to back their invasion of his premises.

“The assault on El Rufai's house continues a sorry tradition of serial violation of his rights by the SSS which has arrested him at airports and hotels. The most recent was the action of the SSS in violating his right to freedom of movement in Awka during the Anambra elections. Without any just cause or formal charge, the Directorate of State Security Services (SSS) had unlawfully detained El Rufai, the Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the premises of Finotel Hotel, Akwa, Anambra State, from the 15th day of November, 2013 to the 16th day of November, 2013.

“During the period, Mallam el-Rufai was not only restricted to the Finotel Hotel, he was denied access to his congregational prayer as a devout Muslim; and kept incommunicado without access to anyone and or the press.

“To remedy the flagrant violation of El Rufai's fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 35, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution, El Rufai has sued the SSS over this matter, seeking eight reliefs, including an injunction to restrain the SSS from further infringing on his fundamental rights. He is also praying the court for a declaration that that the SSS has no powers under the 1999 constitution (as amended) or under any Nigerian law to either impose a general restriction on movement or restrict el-Rufai’s constitutional right of freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 34 of the 1999 constitution on account of the Anambra State Gubernatorial election that took place on the 16th day of November, 2013 or any other election.

“Proceedings in the case against the SSS began Thursday, 16 January at the Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State. Mr C.C. Nwaokorie, counsel for the respondents, informed the court that they had only received the processes the previous day. The records of the Court indicated that that they had been served in good time. The court adjourned to 19 February 2014 for hearing of the matter.

“The SSS is advised to diligently attend to this pending matter. Mallam El Rufai will not be silenced. 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.”

•Photo shows El-Rufai.

Source News Express

Posted 25/01/2014 2:15 PM

 

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