Human Rights

The State Security Service has invited Kassim Afegbua

The State Security Service has invited Kassim Afegbua, the spokesperson of Ibrahim Babangida, to appear before it, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

The invitation came via a telephone call from the secret police and it asked Mr. Afegbua to be at its headquarters no later than 11 a.m. Thursday, both Mr. Afegbua and his lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.

The invitation comes hours after Mr. Afegbua turned himself in at the Force Headquarters in Abuja after the police declared him wanted for writing a disputed statement on behalf of Mr. Babangida, who led a military junta that ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993.

Mr. Afegbua signed the statement for Mr. Babangida on Sunday, in which the former military ruler expressed his misgivings about President Muhammadu Buhari and called for a younger leader to emerge in 2019.

A counter statement was released a few hours after Mr. Afegbua circulated his signed statement to the media. The second statement was distributed by PRNigeria, a public relations firm, and had Mr. Babangida as the signatory.

The PRNigeria’s version adopted a conciliatory tone in its observations about the Buhari administration but maintained that it was time for a younger generation of leaders to emerge.

Like the first statement, the second statement also emphasised the need for Nigeria to restructure, a topic that is expected to be at the centre of campaign in 2019.

Mr. Babangida openly acknowledged authorising the statement signed by Mr. Afegbua in an interview with THISDAY Sunday night.

The police declared Mr. Afegbua wanted on Monday evening, a development he responded to by turning up at the Force Headquarters with his lawyers Wednesday morning.

After spending about 25 minutes in a closed-door discussion with the commissioner for police in charge of Inspector-General Monitoring Unit as well as the head of legal department at the Force Headquarters, Mr. Afegbua was released without charges.

While his lawyers were still mulling whether to continue or withdraw a fundamental rights suit of up to N1 billion in damages they had filed against the police on Tuesday, the invitation from the SSS came in.

“We will honour the (SSS) invitation by tomorrow morning,” Mr. Ajulo told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Wednesday night. “We will be there, if that is how they want to run this country, we’ll see how far they can go with this.”

Mr. Afegbua’s ordeal in the hands of federal authorities had been strongly condemned by civic organisations, including Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, who warned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to immediately back off the matter because it infringes on Mr. Afegbua’s rights.

The authorities have not been able to answer questions of whether Mr. Babangida filed any complaint against Mr. Afegbua, or what parts of the statement Mr. Afegbua signed were capable of inciting the public as the police alleged.

Mr. Afegbua said Mr. Babangida remained solidly behind him and that the former leader had been making efforts to ensure that no injuries would be inflicted on him by federal authorities.

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