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How SSS raided Atiku’s office – Eyewitness

Posted by on 2006/08/31 | Views: 985 |

How SSS raided Atiku’s office – Eyewitness

Insights into how the campaign office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar at Asokoro, Abuja was raided by agents of the State Security Service (SSS) on Tuesday have emerged.

Insights into how the campaign office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar at Asokoro, Abuja was raided by agents of the State Security Service (SSS) on Tuesday have emerged.

Details of the invasion, in which an American intern working in the office was seized and detained for about 12 hours came as the SSS spokesman, Ado Muazu, claimed that the action was in response to an alert by a neighbour, who allegedly noticed that an unidentified foreigner lived in the neighbourhood and that he went out discreetly.
The security outfit reportedly claimed not to have known that it was an office linked with the vice president.

The Atiku camp however, described the claims as "laughable," in view of the fact that there were three embassies around the office.
"Asokoro streets are full of Asians and Europeans walking to their offices, homes or strolling their dogs," a source pointed out, stressing that: "because Dr (Usman) Bugaje, is the chairman (House of Representatives) Committee on Foreign Affairs (and Atiku’s pointsman) it is to be expected that foreigners are to be seen going in and out of any building he uses as an office."

Eye-witness account said the team of the SSS officers, eight in number, struck the National Development Project (NDP) building housing the office located in 5, Queen Idiah Street, Asokoro in two white Boxer Peugeot mini vans at about 6.00a.m.

An eyewitness revealed: "Some held their arms while others left their coats open to display their’s. Each wore a bullet-proof vest. One van patrolled the Upabi Asika Street, adjacent to Queen Idah, while the second positioned itself at the Ukpabi Asika Street gate of N.D.P. demanding right of entry. They knocked on the main gate and the guard on night-shift, simply identified as Usman, came out using the small gate. He refused them entry but they showed him SSS identity cards and their guns, insisting that they were on duty. He relented and opened the gate for their van to come in.

"They consequently demanded to see all the gatemen and any other person, in particular the whiteman. After assembling the other gateman and two others on the premises and confiscating their handsets, the operatives were told that no-one goes to the boys quarters where the whiteman lives except Mathew, the cook, who also lives there.

"But on their insistent one of the staff accompanied one of the SSS men to wake Mathew up. When the latter came out of his room, he, at first, tried to escape by scaling the wall (assuming the men were armed robbers), failing which he was brought to the car park where the rest of the staff were assembled. His refusal to lead them to the whiteman’s room earned him a kick and a slap from the operatives. Then he changed tact and agreed to lead them to the room.

The eyewitness further disclosed: "At gun-point, four of the operatives, with a toolbag in tow marched the staff to Rehan L. Iftikhara’s room, the U.S citizen and an ICT intern, who came under the Global Internship International Programme, University of Califonia, Santa Cruz, USA, to train civil society staff). When he opened the door, they burst in, ushering the rest of the staff into the room. They showed him a search warrant and demanded to see his passport, saying they were investigating suspicious activities. They made a thorough search of the room, behind doors, ceiling, under the bed and a detailed search of all his bags. They made a list of things they wanted to take away, including a laptop and other computer disks and accessories. At this point, the team and Rehan had their first disagreement over the vague terms they were using to describe the items. He insisted on proper designations and descriptions.

"After collecting items to take with them, they moved everyone back to the main office, heading for Rehan, ground floor office. It was empty, save for a second laptop. They grabbed papers on table in the opposite cubicle and also grabbed another equipment in yet another cubicle, at which point a battery unit fell down and broke. They also disconnected the power cords of the monitor and hard disk on the receptionist, computer and added it to the confiscated list.

"Next, the operatives demanded to see the office of Dr Usman Bugaje, the coordinator of the office and a member of the House of Representatives, but none of the staff had the keys. Nevertheless, they took Usman, the guard, Mathew and Rehan upstairs and used a battering ram to force open the first electronically locked door and a special crow-bar and other burglary tools in their toolkit to open the electronically controlled second door, damaging the security camera on the door.

"Upon entry, it was a frenzy of grabbing all contents of the desk, drawers and some items from the side cabinets. All items taken from the project coordinator’s office were lumped together as documents from Dr Bugaje office on the confiscated list. They asked Rehan to sign, but here he strongly protested that he had no idea of what they took from Dr Bugaje and could not sign such a vague description. After insisting that he should not meddle into government business, being a foreigner and similar other threats, he signed in the presence of Mathew. "At that point, they loaded the items into their vans and departed with Rehan too. At 7a.m, in Yellow House the SSS house, Rehan was dropped in an office and apparently forgotten. With nobody saying anything to him, he became fidgety by noon and persistently demanded to know his formal, specific charges. He was continually denied. He was ejected into another office.

"Meanwhile, as soon as the SSS team left, the efforts began to reach the project coordinator, Dr Bugaje and Rabiu, the office manager, civil society groups and the U.S Embassy as well as get a lawyer to try to get back the intern from his abductors. About 1p.m, Chinedu, a lawyer from the Constitutional Rights Project (CRP) led a team to the SSS headquarters. After preliminary enquiries, those at the gate initially denied that a whiteman was being held there. The team went back to CRP to enable Chinedu draft and print such a letter. They returned to submit the letter and were kept waiting for almost two hours after which Chinedu demanded to be taken to director, operations of SSS.

After some delay, he was asked to go in, alone."
The eyewitness said that about this time Rehan had been moved to a third office, still without anyone telling him why he was arrested and detained. He said: "Without a mouth wash, breakfast or simple explanation since dawn he spoke to the man in the office, demanding that if only they asked him questions maybe they may get answers that they sought. The office at that point obliged and explained that they were security officers who investigate reports. One report had mentioned Rehan as a possible spy or agent of a foreign government. However, the more Rehan opened up, explaining what he was doing, the more they wanted to know everyone he knew or had met and everything he said or did with them. He then wrote a sixpage personal statement. He made it clear he had nothing to do with politics, after detailing the database container he was constructing for NDP, to be used at a future date. The American refused to be drawn into who owned or funded NDP. The SSS wanted to know:

•Why he was not being paid money?
•Who Professor Lubeck (his supervisor visiting Abuja by co-incidence on a project to audit good governance in Nigeria) was, that he kept phoning?
•Why was his visa extended?
•Why he changed his scheduled return to the US?
•Who he will be staying with in Kaduna and Kano? And other such questions.

Daily Sun learnt that after asking Rehan to retell the story a number of times probably to detect inconsistency, the SSS operatives seemed satisfied. The officers, well after 4pm, told him that the US embassy and a lawyer had been asking after him and that he would soon be allowed to go. He was asked if he wanted water or was hungry?

It was gathered that by then Chinedu, the lawyer, had been assured by the director, operations that it was just a routine questioning and enquiry which had been completed. About the same time, the US embassy team of three who had arrived earlier, went inside the building, saw some people and left, having been assured, like Chinedu, that Rehan would be released.

The American, Daily Sun gathered, was released at about 6p.m. Rabiu, the office manager, was called in and asked to bring the car to the SSS building to pick up the confiscated items and Rehan. Back at NDP, Rehan was debriefed. The office confirmed that everything removed had been returned.
"It would however, take a while to ascertain if all the documents contained in the files that that were removed had been returned," the eyewitness said.

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Comments (7)

Olusola Okhiria Nee Sodunke(Newport, Newport, UK)says...

This is a great piece of history, which is dear to our hearts as people and very much appreciated.

Many thanks to the people who worked hard in the past and those who are still making efforts to keep the institution.

The labour is obviouly worth it. We are proud of you all.

A lot still to be done, with the motivation of the champions of this course, others will follow as well to maintain the institution

May God continue to keep the edifice for development of future generations to the glory of God and the benefits of our fatherland.

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...


Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)