Nigeria’s Secret Service Explains Arrest of Former Minister Nasir El-Rufail

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Nigeria’s Secret police, the State Security Service, SSS has
confirmed that it arrested former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai based on his critical stand on government as contained in his newspaper articles in recent times.

The Congress of Progressive Change, an opposition political party which the former minister belonged to had confirmed the arrest of El-Rufai this morning on his report to Nigeria from London.

“Malam Nasir El-Rufai was arrested this morning by the SSS (State Security Service) at the Abuja airport,” Yinka Odumakin
spokesperson of the party said.

While confirming that it had indeed taken the former Minister into its custody, the SSS said it took the decision “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”.

The agency especially cited a recent article.

Thisday newspaper authored by El-Rufai in which it said the former minister fed “the public with mischievously orchestrated data with the intent of causing disaffection among the populace thereby subverting government,” said the SSS.

El-Rufai had in the article lamented high cost of governance in the country in relation to the state of social services.

“The politician who rigs himself into office then proceeds to loot the treasury, these are all the people whose standard of living we are spending nearly 75 percent of the 2011 budget to pay for,” El-Rufai wrote in the column. The SSS said the El-Rufai had failed to check his facts.

Meanwhile, condemnations have been trailing the arrest of
the former minister.

Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister said the arrest is a disgrace and monumental error on the part of the federal government: “I thought this was meant to be a democracy.

Those who speak out are not the one President Jonathan should be worried about. It is those that do not speak out but that bomb, maim and kill that his SSS should be hunting down.”

Mohammadu Buhari, CPC presidential candidate in the 2011
elections has also called for his immediate release. This was contained in a statement issued by CPC in reaction to the arrest of El-Rufai today.

“General Buhari condemns this brazen act of intimidation, harassment and flagrant violation of citizens right in a democratic atmosphere,” the statement said.

“He therefore calls for the immediate release of El-Rufai from unjust incarceration by the SSS who can then proceed to prefer whatever charges they have against him in court if he has committed any offence known to the laws of the land,” it added.

The former government minister is a respected opposition figure in Nigeria and was a vocal critic of the ruling People’s Democratic Party in the run-up to general elections in April.

He is not the only critic of the cost of government.

Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi and former Finance
Minister Olusegun Aganga were hauled before parliament last year to explain comments attributed to them that the National Assembly was eating up too much of federal budget overheads.

Many economists have also regularly voiced concern that
Nigeria spends more running government than it does on badly needed capital projects, although President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to tighten spending.

Fani-Kayode, insisted that the Jonathan administration
cannot silence opposition, as according to him, to use force and intimidation against opposition would only multiply it.

He therefore called for the immediate release of the CPC
chieftain. PM NEWS gathared that the former minister may be allowed to go home on Saturday night.