ABUJA — Former Minis-ter of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday, turned himself in to the Department of State Services, DSS, in Abuja.
El-Rufai, who is the current Interim Deputy National Secretary of the nation’s leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC, was driven by Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, to the national headquarters of the security outfit at about 9.15a.m. in an ash-coloured Mercedes Sports Utility Vehicle.
Others who accompanied him were his wife, Mrs. El-Rufai, Senator Chris Ngige, Interim National Secretary of APC, Tijani Tumsa, and El-Rufai’s lawyer.
However, at the DSS headquarters, only Amaechi, Ngige and El-Rufai’s lawyer were allowed to follow him into the premises of the security outfit.
Speaking to newsmen at his Maitama home before he was driven to the DSS headquarters, El-Rufai insisted he was innocent, adding that his comment about the possibility of violence erupting if next year’s general elections were rigged was based on Nigeria’s electoral history.
He maintained that his comment was in line with his freedom of speech as enshrined in the amended 1999 Constitution.
Said he: “The statement I made was based on historical fact because it happened in 1964, 1983, 2003, 2007 and 2011.”
El-Rufai said he was ready to go to court to enforce his fundamental human rights, if the need arose, adding, “we are ready to pursue the enforcement of our rights in the law court and in the court of public opinion; whoever does anything against the law should face the consequences.”
Asked what he thought was responsible for the invitation by the DSS, he said he believed the security agency decided to invite him because of a legal action he filed challenging the decision of DSS operatives to detain him in his hotel room in Awka during last November’s governorship election in Anambra State.
Commenting on the development, APC scribe, Tijani Tumsa, dismissed the impression in some quarters that El-Rufai’s statement was inciting, adding that Nigerians were aware of those who had been making incendiary statements about next year’s general elections.
He said: “El-Rufai’s statement was not inciting. It was based on historical facts. I think his invitation by DSS is all political.
“He made those comments to forestal what may happen next year. We are insisting on free and fair elections in 2015.
”If you listened to some recent statements made by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, it means we should be expecting flaws in the 2015 polls.”
Tumsa stated that APC’s cardinal position was that the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of Nigerians should be respected.
Only last Friday, operatives of the DSS who were in search of El-Rufai had laid siege to his houses at Asokoro and Maitama
It would be recalled that the DSS reportedly invited El-Rufai for a chat last Thursday.
Although the reason for the invitation was not known, it was learnt it was in connection with a statement attributed to him that there might be violence if the 2015 general elections are not free and fair
While speaking at the Transformed to Transform, T2T Nigeria, Conference and Career Fair, a leadership and empowerment initiative for the National Youth Service Corps members in Abuja, last Wednesday, the APC deputy secretary said the elections could be marred by riots and other forms of violence that might lead to loss of lives and property unless the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security agencies ensured they were free and fair.
It was, however, gathered that El-Rufai, declined the invitation, citing the pending suit he filed against the DSS as his reason. El-Rufai was reported to have told the Director General of DSS, Ita Ekpeyong, that he was willing to meet with him in his home or office or alternatively, the DSS should produce a warrant of arrest.
The spokesperson of the DSS, Marilyn Ogar, had last Thursday warned those making provocative statements ahead of the 2015 general elections to desist from such remarks or face the full weight of the law.
In its own reaction to the siege laid at El-Rufai’s house last Friday, All Progressives Congress, APC, strongly condemned what it called “the harassment of its Deputy National Secretary, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, by the Department of State Services, DSS.”