Consistent with the culture of every electoral campaign season, Nigeria’s political actors have continued to hurl jibes and accusations at one another. Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, is a recent actor in this game.
The former FCT minister took to Twitter, claiming that as the then governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, the running mate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, saw no wrong in the officials of the State Security Service (SSS) detaining him (El-Rufai) for 48 hours in a hotel during the Anambra gubernatorial election in 2014.
In El-Rufai’s words via his twitter handle:
“Peter Obi is a tribal bigot. He was widely quoted on national television saying that the SSS was right to detain him for 48 hours in an hotel in 2014 on the grounds that ‘El-Rufai has no business being in Anambra State as it is not Katsina State’! I sued the SSS and awarded N4m damages”.
Did Peter Obi really say that?
While we cannot say if the accused, Peter Obi, is really a tribal bigot (as that is an opinion), we can confirm that Mr Obi said those words. Recently, he responded to questions during a youth programme in Nnewi about the matter which occurred five years ago.
“I am aware that during the said election he referred to, security agents merely restricted his movement,” he said, “because he had no business being in Anambra as I would not have been in Kaduna on an election day.”
(Dubawa tried to contact El-Rufai through his aid, Olumuyiwa Adekeye, the Senior Special Assistant Media and Publicity (Spokesperson) but it proved futile. This report would be updated if any new evidence arises.)
Although El-Rufai was detained by the SSS, it was not in 2014!
It is true that the State Security Service (SSS) detained Mallam El-Rufai in his Finotel Hotel, Awka lodge but in stating this, the Kaduna state governor held back some truths.
First, the detention did not take place in 2014; it took place in 2013 — precisely, between November 15 and 16. In fact, an election held in Anambra on November 16, 2013.
Second, it is also true that Mallam Nasir sued the SSS but it is not true that he was awarded N4m as damages. Rather, while delivering his judgement, Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai of the Federal High Court, Awka, who sat on the suit in 2013, ordered the SSS to pay damages of N2m and also tender an apology to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai for unlawful detention.
The Justice, as part of his concessions on the legal redress sought by El-Rufai, ruled thus: “an order for the award of compensation/damages to the Applicant [El-Rufai], in the sum of N2,000,000.00 (Two Million Naira only) for the unlawful and unconstitutional detention/violation of his right to personal liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of association and expression.”
It is true that the SSS detained Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in Awka, Anambra state capital, during Peter Obi’s stint as the governor of Anambra. Also, the court ruled in El-Rufai’s favour and he was compensated for the unlawful detention.
However, unlike Mallam El-Rufai claimed, the detention wasn’t in 2014 but in 2013. Also, the amount of damages pronounced by the Federal High Court that sat on the suit isn’t N4m as El-Rufai stated; it is N2m.
Therefore, based on these, El-Rufai’s claim is rated FALSE.