'Nigeria Warrants A Witch-Hunt'

By Daily Guide
Both men have been out of the country for several years
Both men have been out of the country for several years
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International arrest warrants issued by Nigeria for two allies of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo are part of a witch-hunt, one of their lawyers says.

Nasir el-Rufai was the minister for Abuja and Nuhu Ribadu once headed the anti-corruption agency, the EFCC.

"The point of the arrest warrants is not to arrest these men but to deter them from returning to Nigeria," Mr el-Rufai's lawyer told the BBC.

But he said they wanted to return home to continue a fight against corruption.

Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told the BBC that Interpol was being contacted because of a court order requesting the men's extradition.

Both have failed to make appearances in court in connection with EFCC cases.

'Fear the truth'
 Mr Ribadu was removed from his post and sent on a year's "training course" shortly after Mr Obasanjo left office in 2007.

After the course he fled to the UK, as he said two attempts were made on his life.

He was subsequently accused of not declaring his assets while in office, something he denies.

Mr el-Rufai went to study in the United States after leaving office in 2007 and is wanted for questioning by the EFCC over the alleged disappearance of millions of dollars of government funds.

Robert Amsterdam, who represents Mr el-Rufai, said there were people in power working to stop their return.

"They fear the truth and the truth of the matter is as the world knows Mr el-Rufai and Mr Ribadu led the fight against corruption in Nigeria," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

President Umaru Yar'Adua won elections in 2007 after Mr Obasanjo stood down after two terms.

He was chosen to contest the polls by his predecessor, but correspondents say his administration has since sought to remove the influence of ex-President Obasanjo in government.

Last last month, Mr Yar'Adua was diagnosed with a heart condition and is still being treated in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Amsterdam suggested that the warrants would not have been issued had Mr Yar'Adua been working as normal.

"I want to be clear that this is being done in the absence of the president," he said.

Mr el-Rufai was one of more than 50 prominent Nigerians who signed a letter calling on President Yar'Adua to step down because of his health problems.

Source: BBC News