2023: How El-Rufai’s arrest during 2013 Anambra election spurs misinformation online

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KADUNA State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai claimed that the 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, at the time he was governor of Anambra State, ordered his arrest when he visited Anambra in 2013.

According to him, Obi, who was governor on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), got him arrested and detained for forty-eight hours.

El-Rufai disclosed this while speaking at an interactive session between the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and the Arewa Joint Committee in Kaduna on Monday, October 17, 2022.

“In 2013, I went to Anambra State as an official of the APC to witness the bye-election for governorship. Your next guest, Peter Obi, as governor, got me arrested and detained for 48 hours in my hotel room.

“Now, I’m the Governor of Kaduna State, and he’s coming to Kaduna. In addition to the police and the State Secret Service, I have one Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army here, if I need to arrest and detain anyone. But we are northerners, we are civilised. We don’t do things like that. I wish you all safe journey back to your destinations,” El-Rufai said.

El-Rufai’s statement has since gone viral on social media and as well sparked mixed reactions, especially on Twitter.

The governor himself retweeted some of the tweets quoting him on his verified Twitter handle.

It was observed that some of the tweets quoted him as saying he would not arrest or detain Peter Obi, which was not part of his actual statement.

A screenshot showing some of the Twitter posts retweeted by El-Rufai.

The Spokesman for APC 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, also posted the viral video of El-Rufai’s statement on his verified Twitter handle.

 

However, El-Rufai, who was the Deputy National Secretary of the APC at the time and who went to Anambra state to support the party’s governorship candidate, Chris Ngige, had earlier claimed that authorities from Abuja were responsible for his alleged arrest.

In an interview granted after the alleged arrest, El-Rufai said, “I left my hotel room to go eat, to have breakfast and I was blocked by three SSS officials holding AK-47, threatening me that they have directives from Abuja to restrict me to my room”.

He condemned the alleged act and further threatened to approach the court of law over the development.

“I tried to leave the hotel at about 3 pm and they blocked the entrance to the hotel. They stopped everyone coming in and out. There are journalists from Radio France that came to interview me. They chased them away. These people are uncivilised, they are savages. But these are matters for the law,” El-Rufai added.

A Tweep, Adetutu Balogun, MBA via her Twitter handle @Tutsy22, who referred to the interview, called El-Rufai a “compulsive liar”.

El-Rufai, who later reacted to Balogun’s tweet, claimed that Peter Obi later admitted that he was behind the alleged arrest.

 

Meanwhile, in an interview with Arise TV, Peter Obi queried the claim by El-Rufai as he said he had no authority over the Police and SSS as the then governor of Anambra State.

Obi, who granted the interview when he was contesting as a Vice President on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said, “As a sitting governor, I have never, on election day, go and arrest anybody in Anambra State.

“El-Rufai came to Anambra on election day and said he wants to move around the local governments, the State Security Services said you cannot move around; not even the governor is allowed to move around.”

Obi said the Agency had told El-Rufai to remain in his hotel for his safety.

He further explained that when he was asked to speak to the issue in an interview, he said, ” I Peter Obi wouldn’t want to be in Kaduna for the same reasons on an election day.”

In Obi’s latest reaction to the comment made by El-Rufai, he reiterated that he couldn’t have ordered the said arrest.

According to him, he had no power over SSS officials controlled by Nigeria’s federal government.

Obi queried how the incident El-Rufai’s referred to was connected to bigotry, cautioning on the need to avoid reckless speeches and utterances that could divide and destroy the country.

According to Obi, the Anambra State police commissioner at the time was from Adamawa State, and the AIG was from Nasarawa State.

He said the GMD that was planning for the election was from Kano, adding that there was no way he could have ordered the arrest of El-Rufai.

Findings by The FactCheckHub revealed that the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation were the respondents in the lawsuit filed by El-Rufai to contest his detention at the Finotel hotel in Awka, Anambra State.

In the ruling delivered on Monday, September 29, 2014, a court sitting in Awka ordered the SSS to publish an apology in two national dailies and pay El-Rufai N2 million in damages for the detention.

The court described El-Rufai’s arrest as an unlawful and unconstitutional violation of his liberty.

Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai held that the SSS had no statutory powers under any Nigerian law to detain El-Rufai without cause to a court of competent jurisdiction.

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