The State Security Service was unable to attend to a man it invited for questioning on Thursday, saying its director-general was away from the office.
Kassim Afegbua was invited by the secret police for questioning on Wednesday night, hours after he was questioned by the police and released. Both invitations were because of a statement he signed on behalf of ex-Nigerian leader, Ibrahim Babangida.
“We were asked to come again tomorrow morning,” Mr. Afegbua told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Thursday night. “We were waiting there until 6:00 p.m. when we were asked to go.”
Mr. Afegbua told PREMIUM TIMES he was not informed about the specifics of the invitation, saying the SSS operatives merely told him and his lawyers that the invitation was for “a friendly chat.”
Mr. Afegbua said he would return to the SSS with his lawyer tomorrow morning before 11:00 a.m. as directed by operatives they met during their visit today.
It was not immediately clear when Mr. Daura travelled out of Abuja or whether he summoned Mr. Afegbua even when he knew he won’t be in town to attend to him or delegate personnel for the session.
The SSS does not have a spokesperson that could be reached for comments.
PREMIUM TIMES broke the news last night that Mr. Afegbua had been contacted by the SSS, and was the first to report that he had arrived at the secret police’s headquarters in Abuja with his lawyers around noon.
Mr. Afegbua became a target of federal authorities after issuing a statement on behalf of Mr. Babangida, a former military head of state whom he had served as spokesperson for over 14 years.
The controversy was caused by a contradictory statement that was issued to neutralise the one signed by Mr. Afegbua on Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Afegbua’s version had depicted Mr. Babangida as being miffed by how President Muhammadu Buhari handled the herdsmen crisis and other violent crimes across the country within the last few weeks.
The counter-statement said to have been signed by Mr. Babangida himself, played down any criticism of Mr. Buhari and instead focused on topical national issues like restructuring and youth participation in politics.
Mr. Afegbua’s situation 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.
Mr. Babangida had issued a public comment that he was the one who authorised the statement released by Mr. Afegbua, effectively disowning the counter-statement.
Neither the police nor the SSS has answered 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.