Nasir El-Rufai’s Media Advisor, Muyiwa Adekeye, has described today’s assault on the Abuja home of the Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as continuation of “a sorry tradition of serial violation of his rights” by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS), which has arrested him at airports and hotels.
He warned however that Mallam El Rufai will not be silenced.
“He will continue to do his patriotic duty of challenging [the Independent National Electoral Commission] and the security agencies to guarantee the climate for free and fair elections in Nigeria by desisting from partisanship and the embrace of impunity,” Adekeye said in a statement.
He explained that the armed onslaught followed El Rufai’s rejection of the attempt by the SSS to compel him to come to their offices without a valid warrant. The APC chieftain had on Thursday told the Director General of the SSS he would be exercising his right not to go to their offices unless the agency produced a warrant.
“He however offered to meet the SSS officials in his home or office,” Adekeye said. “The armed invasion of his house is a clear indication that the SSS imagines itself as an agency immune from respecting fundamental rights, behaviour akin to a gathering of toughs before whom every citizen must quake.”
He noted that the SSS agents did not produce any warrant to back their invasion of his premises.
On the persistent violation of El Rufai’s rights, Adekeye drew attention to the recent violation of his freedom of movement in Awka during the Anambra elections without just cause or formal charge, detaining him at the premises of Finotel Hotel in Akwa from 15th to 16th November, 2013.
He further pointed out that during the restriction of movement, El-Rufai was not only confined to the Finotel Hotel, but also denied access to his congregational prayer as a devout Muslim and kept incommunicado without access to anyone and or the press.
“To remedy the flagrant violation of El Rufai’s fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 35, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution, El Rufai has sued the SSS over this matter, seeking eight reliefs, including an injunction to restrain the SSS from further infringing on his fundamental rights,” the statement said. “He is also praying the court for a declaration that the SSS has no powers under the 1999 constitution (as amended) or under any Nigerian law to either impose a general restriction on movement or restrict el-Rufai’s constitutional right of freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 34 of the 1999 constitution on account of the Anambra State Gubernatorial election that took place on the 16th day of November, 2013 or any other election.”
Adekeye disclosed that proceedings in the case against the SSS began on 16 January at the Federal High Court in Awka, with defending counsel, C.C. Nwaokorie, informing the court that they had only received the processes the previous day. The records of the court, however, indicated that they had been served in good time. The court adjourned to 19 February 2014 for hearing.
Earlier on Friday, the APC strongly condemned the harassment of El Rufai, describing the invasion of his home as a case of “shameful overkill.”
In a statement, the party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said it was shocking that the DSS was seeking to arrest Mr. El-Rufai for merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He had declared that there might be violence if the 2015 general elections were not free and fair.
In a subsequent personal statement, El-Rufai clarified his position, saying he would stand his ground and defend it with all he has.
“If and when the SSS produces a warrant, I will go to their office with my lawyers present and listen to them,” he said. “If they do not, I will insist on meeting with them in my own premises. It is as simple as that. Freedom of expression is guaranteed under our Constitution.