Interpol trails el-Rufai to US
Lanre Adewole, Abuja
Monday, January 12, 2009
THE International Police (Interpol) have reportedly trailed former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, to the United States of America, contrary to reports that he was in the United Kingdom.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had declared him wanted over an alleged N32 billion fraud while in office. The commission subsequently enlisted the cooperation of the Interpol to get him arrested.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the Interpol had been communicating with the anti-corruption agency since the latter was able to prove that el-Rufai actually jumped bail in Nigeria after he was released on bail in June 20, 2008.
The latest information from Interpol to EFCC about the former minister’s whereabouts, according to sources close to the commission, stated that he currently stays in a hidden residence in Boston, USA.
The reports being circulated by those close to him said that he was residing in the United Kingdom. Apart from his abode in Boston, el-Rufai was also said to have been traced to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where he reportedly made several trips to meet with some of his associates.
The associates are said to be responsible for movement of documents from Nigeria to him abroad. The commission had said that el-Rufai was wanted “for abuse of office and misappropriation public funds to the tune of N32 billion.”
A statement signed by EFCC’s spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi, read “The need to declare el-Rufai wanted became imperative following his failure to honour a simple invitation from the commission to respond to weighty allegations levelled against him in petitions being investigated by the commission.”
The commission had summoned el-Rufai to appear before it on November 28, 2008. The commission claimed that instead of honouring the invitation, the former minister wrote back through his counsel, requesting the commission to send its questions to him.
He based his request on his participation in an examination abroad. Babafemi further noted that “this prompted the commission to grant him another three weeks grace. But instead of seizing the opportunity to respond to the weighty allegations against him, he has resorted to a hide-and-seek game and an appalling show of impunity on the pages of newspapers.”
Speaking on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), el-Rufai dared the commission, saying that he would not honour the invitation.
According to him, “I am a student; I cannot leave my studies to come to Nigeria to answer questions from anybody because I am not a government employee.”