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el-Rufai gets new passport

By Funmi Komolafe
FORMER Minister  of  the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday obtained a new passport from the Nigerian High Commission on Northumberland Avenue, London.

The re-issue of his passport confirmed the new directive from the Presidency that el-Rufai and the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, be issued new passport booklets.

It had earlier been directed that the twosome who have run short of pages in their passports should not be issued new booklets.

The secret directive, however, attracted widespread criticism in the country, calling to question  President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government claim to rule of law and human rights.

It also led to the sack of the then director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), as the Presidency was disturbed that the secret directive leaked to the media.

el-Rufai, who arrived the Nigerian High Commission at 10 a.m. yesterday told Vanguard on the telephone that he was treated with courtesy “like an egg.”

He said: “I was at the embassy to reclaim my citizenship, which Yar’Adua’s government denied me a month ago.”

Asked why he insisted on having the Nigerian passport when he could have made other arraignments, he said: “It is because I love my country. It has given so much opportunities to me which I would never have had elsewhere. That is why I like to see Nigeria well governed so that people like me with a humble background can have such opportunities”.

On the passport, in particular, he said: “It is very important to me.”

The former minister had earlier sent a petition against the Yar’Adua government to  the United Nations  concerning the Presidency’s directive that he should not be issued a new passport booklet.

After the usual documentation, el-Rufai obtained his green Nigerian passport at 3p.m. in London yesterday.

His friend, Ribadu, was not at the High Commission when he was there. However, it is not clear if Ribadu can also obtain a passport in any country where Nigeria has an embassy.


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