By Tony Edike
FORMER Minister of Information, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, was yesterday arrested and flown to Abuja by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) in Enugu.
Nwodo, who was arrested at his residence in Enugu and detained for several hours at the Enugu office of SSS, was at 3.30p.m. yesterday, flown to Abuja aboard an Arik Airline.
No official reason was adduced for his arrest but sources said the action might not be unconnected with the speech he delivered last week at the two-day Security Summit organised by the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, for the South-East and South-South zones.
Nwodo had during the interactive session of the summit allegedly said, â€œWe cannot thank you (army) enough for your professionalism and for your patriotism, but I dare say that it does not stop with keeping quiet.
“As minister, I remember that General (Mohammadu) Buhari and other GOCs (General Officers Commanding) came to give the President ultimatums that if certain things were not done, they can no longer guarantee security.â€
He stated further that â€œthe fact that you wear a uniform does not insulate you from the politics of your country, in fact, it gives you more responsibility because when everything fails, it rests on your shoulder to defend the territorial integrity of the country, so speak up.â€
The statement was regarded by security chiefs present as inciting and dangerous to the nationâ€™s democracy, and the Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulrahaman Dambazau, who was present at the summit, wasted no time denouncing Nwodoâ€™s suggestions.
Dambazau said: â€œOur business is there in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution. We are not going to interfere in what politicians do. We are not saying that our democracy is perfect, but we are hopeful that the politicians would some day arrive at a point of perfection.
“If what happened in1966 (first military coup) had not happened, Nigeria would have gone farther than this. So, please, we do not want that suggestion from youâ€.
Disturbed by the former ministerâ€™s comments, the federal authorities sent a signal to the Enugu office of SSS Monday night ordering the arrest of the politician, a directive that was carried out yesterday.
When Vanguard called at the office of the security service at Independence Layout, Enugu, yesterday, scores of associates of the politician including his lawyer, Mr. Anthony Mgboh (SAN) and former Vicar- General of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Obiora Ike, were around to know why Nwodo was arrested.