by Ben Ezeamalu,
A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Wednesday shared his experiences while in detention after he was arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over allegations of fraud.
Mr. Fani-Kayode was released from detention in Kuje Prisons last Monday, after he was granted bail by a high court.
The former minister is facing multiple charges of money laundering in federal courts in Abuja and Lagos. He says the allegations are spurious and politically-motivated.
“I am innocent of all the charges and allegations and as I have said elsewhere the whole thing is an attempt by the Federal Government and an increasingly desperate EFCC that is obsessed with my name and putting me away to discredit, break and silence me,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
Mr. Fani-Kayode was first arrested by the EFCC in May and detained till July before he was arraigned before a federal judge in Lagos and then granted bail.
On October 21, he was re-arrested after a court appearance in Lagos.
“Throughout the time of the second detention I was kept in a dingy underground cell at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja where I met a number of other high profile opposition figures like Senator Bala Mohammed, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the former Minister of State for Defence and Mr. Reuben Abati, the former spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
“During the course of my 21 day incarceration my abductors did not ask me any questions or say one word to me other than to formally serve me with a new set of fresh criminal charges the morning after I got there which I simply signed for.
“After that I heard nothing from them and I was told nothing though I had daily visits to the medical clinic at the EFCC due to my deteriorating health.”
On November 10, Mr. Fani-Kayode was, again, arraigned before a federal judge in Abuja on fresh charges of allegedly receiving N26 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
“Thankfully I was granted bail by the court and I was detained at Kuje prison for a further 4 days whilst I attempted to perfect my bail,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
“At Kuje I was kept in the terrorist wing of the prison which was built by the British government specifically for Boko Haram convicts and suspects.
“There were 47 of them in the facility and I was with them throughout. These were tough, disciplined, hardened, surprisingly well-educated and intimidating men.
“The single cells and the entire terrorist section of the prison was pervaded by an eerie silence throughout the night and low tone whispers throughout the day. The only thing that broke the monotony of silence was the regular and constant call to Muslim prayers and the loud and regular cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’
“This was a frightful place and those that were locked up there were very dangerous and frightful people yet thankfully the Lord went ahead of me.
“The single cells, though small, were clean, self-contained, well-ventilated, dry and very neat. The inmates were surprisingly very kind and friendly towards me and turned out to be my best friends and bodyguards whenever I toured the other parts of the prison.
“I was very impressed with them and when I heard their stories and what some of them had been subjected to by the security forces and the state tears came to my eyes.
“Most of those men were not Boko Haram killers but had been falsely accused, tortured and just dumped into prison and I felt nothing but pain and sorrow when I heard their stories.”
Mr. Fani-Kayode also said he paid a visit, during his time in prison, to co-detainee and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The former minister described Mr. Kanu as a “great and brilliant freedom fighter.”
“I had never met Nnamdi before and I was amazed at his depth of knowledge, his immense courage and his deep convictions,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that that man is going places and in him the Igbo have an Ojukwu and a Nnamdi Azikiwe all rolled into one. He is destined for greatness.
“My Boko Haram friends accompanied me to that meeting, drew a ten man security cordon around me when we entered the general population of the prison and waited outside as Nnamdi and I spoke for almost three hours.
“They even accompanied me to Church on Sunday and waited outside until we finished.
“Given what I have written about Boko Haram in the past and given my total aversion to any form of violence, terrorism and radical Islam, this was a classic case of God granting me favour before my enemies.
“Everyone dreaded them in that prison but I am proud to say that they were my friends and I will never forget their courage, kindness and fellowship for the rest of my life.”