Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, who was arrested and detained for more than two months by the Muhammadu Buhari government has described his experience in detention as traumatic and depressing.
Chief Fani-Kayode, who regained his freedom on Friday, July 15, 2016, after meeting bail conditions set by a federal court judge in Lagos. He granted a brief interview to Punch Saturday in which he spoke on some of the issues surrounding his arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The outspoken opposition party stalwart said his release from detention would enable him prepare for his defence against the charges leveled against him by the EFCC, but that it would be meaningless if other political prisoners in Nigeria are not released.
“It was quite an ordeal. It was an ordeal. But I thank God that I am free and that I have been given an opportunity to defend myself in court when the case starts – I am looking forward to that,” Fani-Kayode said.
“Outside of that, the truth is that as long as others who are also political prisoners and have been falsely accused are still in custody in our country, then I believe that my freedom is meaningless,”
“So, until every single political prisoner or every single person falsely accused by the state, by the government and the EFCC has been released, has been given the opportunity to defend himself in court, and until that happens, I don’t think any of us is free.
Fani-Kayode, who is being charged over campaign funds paid to him as director of media and publicity for the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaigns of 2015, explained the dire situation in which targets of the Muhammadu Buhari are passing through in the hands of security agencies.
He noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari government is intolerant of criticism.
“You have people in EFCC custody – husbands and wives locked up for no good reasons. It is very traumatic and depressing but now, is not the time to talk; right now I am preparing my defence. I am preparing for any eventuality because I know the government is capable of doing anything to anybody at anytime, who criticises them,” he said.
“I am also preparing and praying for what lies ahead. Whatever the case, the struggle will continue and then we shall prevail.
“Those that seek to impose an ethnic and religious bondage and servitude on people of this nation will not succeed. And, every Nigerian, regardless of his religious faith or where he comes from, will and shall be treated equally – and that’s what we are fighting for,” he said.
He also spoke on his prison and detention experience.
“While in prison, I only ate food that was brought to me by my wife. The prison officials were very professional. People were treated like human beings and that is to be commended,”
“But being in EFCC’s custody is a different kettle of fish. I am glad to be free at last. I pray that this country is delivered from the sort of evil where people are just accused and locked up indefinitely and maligned by the press.”
Chief Fani-Kayode, a two-time minister and stalwart of the main opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was arrested by the EFCC on May 9, 2014 after he honoured an invitation to the anti-graft commission for questioning.
Human rights group, Intersociety, condemned his detention because it violates Nigeria’s constitution which protects all Nigerians from being detained indefinitely without charge.