Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) quizzes El-Rufai for nine hours

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and wife, Asia, at the EFCC Office In Abuja. Photo: NAN

For more than nine hours yesterday, the former minister of the federal capital territory, Nasir El-Rufai was quizzed by detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission who had declared him wanted for allegedly misappropriating N32 billion.

Dressed in white caftan and a red cap, Mr El-Rufai arrived the commission’s Abuja office at about 10am accompanied by his lawyer and family members. He was only allowed to go home a little after 7pm, although it was not immediately clear whether he would be required to go back for more interrogation today.

The former minister arrived the country over the weekend after more than one year in exile and the EFCC directed him to visit their office on Tuesday to account for his tenure.

On his arrival, EFCC spokesperson, Femi Babafemi told reporters that el-Rufai will be questioned over the missing funds which dates back to his time as minister of the federal capital territory.

Mr el-Rufai was only seen to come out of the EFCC offices about three times to observe his prayers at 2, 4, and 7pm.

Though he declined to talk to journalists, el-Rufai’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha told reporters who had gathered at the EFCC headquarters since early morning, that his client had submitted written statements to the EFCC.

Efforts to make the former minister address the press as he had earlier promised failed and he just entered an SUV which drove furiously away. In the process, a number of journalists crowding around the car were pushed down.

When asked if Mr el-Rufai was gagged by the EFCC, Mr Mustapha said “only he can answer that question.” Mr Babafemi also declined to confirm if the EFCC has placed a gag order on the former minister. He equally denied reports that the charges against Mr el-Rufai had been reduced, saying there was nothing of such.

Asked to speak on the journalists who were almost run down, an aide to Mr el-Rufai said the vehicle was actually driven by an EFCC operative and that his boss will not like to comment on it.

NEXT learnt that Mr el-Rufai was given an administrative bail, though neither Mr Mustapha nor Mr Babafemi would say when he is expected back.

Cecilia Ibru, former managing director of Oceaninc Bank, was also at the EFFC office today for a routine appearance which was part of her bail conditions. Mrs Ibru, who came in a black Lexus Jeep, almost fell as her aides tried to shield her from journalists during the five minutes visit. She refused to answer questions thrown at her, until a reporter asked if she knew the whereabouts, or had contacted her former nanny, Nanashetu Abdullahi. She gave a bemused smile and hurriedly entered her car.


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