Posted by By Rotimi Ajayi on
SECURITY operatives yesterday raided an annex of the campaign office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Abuja and whisked away his chief spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu.
ABUJA — SECURITY operatives yesterday raided an annex of the campaign office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Abuja and whisked away his chief spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu.
The resource centre of the VP’s campaign organisation was recently raided by security men who arrested an American over allegation that he had links with a terrorist group.
Mallam Shehu’s arrest yesterday came shortly after he issued a statement in which he alleged moves by “highly placed mischief makers and professional character assassins to air a one-hour documentary of lies and fabrications on Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The arrest was confirmed by Dr. Adeolu Akande, an aide of the VP who in a statement said: “Officials of the State Security Service (SSS) this afternoon (19 September 2006) stormed the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Media Centre in Jabi, Abuja, and abducted Mallam Garba Shehu, the campaign spokesman.
“In a lightning operation that took barely three minutes, the operatives led Garba down to a waiting Peugeot 406 car with Abuja registration number plate CY747ABJ, and drove him away at 1.45 p.m to an undisclosed destination.
“The abduction, said to have been ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo, came barely a week after Garba was picked up by agents of the same organisation (SSS) and grilled for two hours at their Asokoro corporate headquarters.
“The agents, who claimed to have come from the National Operations Directorate of the SSS, did not volunteer any information, but the Atiku Campaign gathered that Shehu was wanted to substantiate the allegations against President Olusegun Obasanjo in the ongoing face-off between the President and his deputy.
“He is also to be queried on allegations that he had been ‘bribing journalists’ to publish statements from the Campaign Oraganisation. The position of the Campaign Organisation is that whatever has been said against the President in the unfolding persecution of Atiku Abubakar has been informed by facts and backed up with evidence which have been deposed in a court of law, and does not feel obliged to volunteer anything to the SSS at this time.
“On the alleged bribery of journalists, nothing can be farther from the truth. Whatever the media office has accomplished is because of the professionalism of the media and the commitment of the journalists to the principle of fair hearing.
“The Atiku Campaign Organisation deplores the constant harassment and intimidation which began with the President’s brief pass-over at the media office only last week, which the FCDA called a ‘routine tour’ of the territory.
“It will be recalled that members of the President’s camp, including Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, Frank Nweke Jr,. Akin Osuntokun, Uba Sani, and PDP acolytes Ojo Maduekwe, Ahmadu Ali and Olabode George, have on several occasions called the Vice President unprintable names, and levelled wild and unsubstantiated allegations at the Vice President without a whimper from the SSS.”
Why Shehu is held,
The State Security Service last night confirmed its invitation of Mallam Shehu.
In a statement signed by Mr Ado Mu'azu it said: “Shehu Garba has been invited by the State Security Service in connection with certian acts and plans capable of threatening the internal security of Nigeria. The service acted independently in the discharge of their statutory responsibility.”
Documentary on VP
However, shortly before his arrest yesterday, Mallam Shehu had issued a statement, saying: “The Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation would like to alert the general public to a plan by highly placed mischief makers and professional character assassins to air one-hour documentary of lies and fabrications on Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“The documentary, paid for by a South-South governor is expected to go on air any moment from now as part of the smear campaign against the Vice President.
“The documentary producers and their faceless sponsors have lined up a number of paid individuals to testify on camera to alleged crimes that have been committed by the Vice President. These individuals who have been paid to lie against the Vice President have had no link or contact with him."
Aturu condemns arrest
Meanwhile, reacting to Mallam Shehu’s arrest, Lagos lawyer Mr Bamidele Aturu said: “There is no doubt that some people are uncomfortable with the sordid revelations competently dished out by Mr Shehu. The role played so far by the man in my opinion is patriotic.
“In other climes, Mr Shehu, an able communicator should be receiving medals for his thoroughness and competence in showing us that the two occupants of Aso Rock have soiled their hands by relating with our resources and contractors improperly.
“As far as I am concerned, the man has not hidden any fact, not even facts incriminating his principal. This is a man that ought to be celebrated, unless of course the SSS can link him to any crime. It is going to be difficult for the SSS to convince Nigerians that the latest arrest is not a partisan act meant to give the presidential media army a field day.”
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