By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, Political Editor, EMMA UJAH & HENRY UMORU
ABUJA -The reconciliation move between the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum , NPLF, and President Goodluck Jonathan was severely damaged, yesterday, as the State Security Service, SSS arrested two key operational staff of the Forum.
The NPLF in a terse reaction said the President was not ready for peace though the State Security Service, SSS, which picked the men said the arrests were unconnected with politics.
NPLF secretary, Mallam Abdulkadir Bello, was arrested, Wednesday, a day before the scheduled meeting of the body where the key decision of whether the NPLF should support the President or not was to have been taken.
Another operational staff, Mallam Bibi Farouk, was arrested while the meeting of the NPLF was going on.
Confirmation of Abdulkadir’s arrest
The State Security Services, SSS, which confirmed the arrest of Abdulkadir, however, said their arrest had nothing to do with politics. There were indeed inferences of a fifth columnist working to sabotage the envisaged reconciliation between the President and the NPLF.
Yesterday’s meeting which was ongoing at press time followed the arrival from abroad of former Vice-President Abubakar on Wednesday evening.
The meeting was believed to be deliberating on the work of the seven-man joint committee jointly constituted by the President and the NPLF to bridge differences between the two sides. Vanguard learnt that a communiqué of the meeting would be released today.
SSS spokesperson, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, while admitting the arrest of the NPLF secretary, however, insisted that it had nothing to do with politics saying that membership of an organization was not a licence to carry out illegal activities.
She told Vanguard that Alhaji Abdulkadir was arrested as Alhaji Abdulkadir and that it had nothing to do with his position as Secretary of NPLF.
Ogar said: “Alhaji Abdulkadir was arrested as Alhaji Abdulkadir, not as Secretary of NPLF. People must not bring politics into this. Nobody should think that he will be allowed to do just whatever he likes because he is a member of any organization. It must be made very clear that this matter has nothing to with his position in the NPLF.”
She, nevertheless did not give the reason for the arrest.
The Ciroma-led NPLF had recently softened its denunciation of President Jonathan’s presidential aspiration and had met to take a decisive decision on whether or not to support the President.
The breakthrough followed the meeting early last month between President Jonathan and elements of the NPLF where it was resolved to set up a seven-man joint committee to articulate a working document to guide rapprochement between both sides.
The seven-man joint committee chaired by Magaji Dambatta was supposed to submit its report for the consideration of the President and the NPLF. NPLF sources, however, expressed regrets that possible reconciliation may have been put on hold with the arrest of the duo.
Sources said that Abdulkadir was arrested on Wednesday by operatives of the SSS in Abuja and taken to the headquarters of the security agency in the Asokoro area the same day. He was still being held by the SSS at press time yesterday.
Farouk was arrested while the meeting of the NPLF was on-going. It was, however, not confirmed whether he was arrested at the venue of the meeting.
Denouncing the arrest, yesterday, the NPLF in an unsigned statement made available to Vanguard said:
“This is in bad faith and tells a lie to President Goodluck Jonathan’s attempt for rapprochement with Northern Political Leaders Forum.”