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 9.15 am 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 SSS headquarters, only Amaechi, Ngige and El-Rufai’s lawyer were allowed to follow him into the premises of the security outfit.
Speaking to news men at his Maitama home before he was driven to the SSS Headquarters, El-Rufai insisted he was innocent adding that his comment about the possibility of violence erupting if next year’s general elections are rigged was based on Nigeria’s electoral history.
He maintained that his comment was his in line with his freedom of speech as enshrined within 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.”
He further said that he was ready to go to court to enforce his fundamental human rights if the need arises.
According to him: “….We are ready to pursue the enforcement of our rights in the law court and in the court of public opinion”.
He continued: “Whoever does anything against the law should face the consequences”.
When asked what he thought was responsible for the invitation by the SSS, he said he believed the security outfit decided to invite him because of a legal action he filed challenging the decision of SSS operatives to detain him in his hotel room at Awka during last November’s governorship election in Anambra State.
Commenting on the development, the APC Scribe 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.
Said he: ” El-Rufai’s statement was not inciting. It was based on historical facts. I think his invitation by SSS is all political. He made those comments to forestall what may happen next year. We are insisting on free and fair elections in 2015″.
He continued: ” 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 further stated that the APC’s cardinal position is that the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of Nigerians should be respected.
Only last Friday, operatives of the SSS who were in search of El-Rufai had besieged his houses at Asokoro and Maitama. It would be recalled that the SSS had 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 properties 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 SSS as his reason.
El-Rufai was reported to have told the Director General of SSS, Ita Ekpeyong, that he was willing to meet with him in his home or office or that in the alternative, the SSS should produce a warrant of arrest.
The spokesperson of the SSS Marilyn Ogar had last Thursday warned ” those making provocative statements ahead of the 2015 general election to desist from such remarks or face the full weight of the law.”
In its own reaction to the siege that was laid at El-Rufai’s house last Friday,
the All Progressives Congress (APC) had strongly condemned what it called “the harassment of its Deputy National Secretary, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, by the Department of State Security (DSS)”.
In a statement that was issued by the party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC described the development as ” a shameful overkill”.
The party further expressed shock that the DSS was seeking to arrest El-Rufai for merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech.
APC further asked: “…Why has the DSS suddenly found its agility, after playing dead when people like Chief Edwin Clark, Asari Dokubo and Chukwuemeka Ezeife issued a direct threat to Nigeria’s continued existence over President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition?”
The party’s statement concluded that : ”The DSS is free to join the police in becoming a partisan and compromised national institution, but it should weigh the consequences of such action on its long-term credibility,”