Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili
| credits: royaltimes.net
A former Minister of Education and a champion of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has narrated her ordeals in the hands of security operatives at the Abuja International Airport on Monday.
Ezekwesili was delayed for over 40 minutes by men of the Department of State Security, who harassed her based on “orders from above.”
Narrating her ordeals to members of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, to whom she is a trustee on Tuesday, Ezekwesili gave a blow by blow account of her ordeals in the hands of DSS.
This was contained in a statement by the CANAN Executive Director, Pastor Laolu Akande, after the former minister visited the group in London.
Akande quoted Ezekwesili as saying that, “I arrived at the airport yesterday (on Monday) to travel to London on British Airline. First, after the luggage screening section, I moved to the Customs people, sitting right next to it and do a more thorough bag search. Rather than they handling my luggage as is the practice, there were three SSS men, who rudely took over before they could do so, and ordered me to open my bag.
“I was travelling light, with just my hand luggage leather roll on and my computer bag. I placed the bag for them (to see) and one was already furiously frisking through it when the Customs advised that a woman be allowed to do it. She was allowed and she did it.
“She finished, zipped up the luggage and they said I could proceed. But I asked that the computer bag be also searched, and they did.
“I went on to do my checking and got my boarding pass, and was swiftly done. I arrived the Departure Immigration Desk at about 7.15am and presented my passport and forms. The Immigration staff did his processing and handed to the SSS official. Usually, their entire process lasts no more than five to 10 minutes on a passport. As a frequent traveller through our Lagos and Abuja airports, I speak based on experience and evidence. Even on the same day, the process for other travellers that I witnessed did not last more than five minutes. But on Monday, it became five, 10, 15 and 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 minutes for the Departure Desk processing for me, with no explanation given except “We act under instruction.”
Ezekwesili said after 10 minutes of waiting, she asked the officer why her passport was not handed over to her.
“He responded, “I am not doing this personally madam. I am simply acting based on instruction, and you of all persons should understand that.”
“When it was 20 minutes into the process, and with BA announcing the final boarding call for the 8am flight, the officer walked out of the cubicle, heading off. I followed him, asking where he was going without giving back my passport nor an explanation on why it was being withheld. His nonchalant response was “just wait. I am trying to help you”.
“It became evident that they withheld the passport to detain me at their departure desk in order to miss the flight. That was when I tweeted @ 7.37am “@obyezeks: Is this a democracy? I am being detained by the SSS @ Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The SSS has refused to give my passport to me.” At 7.41am “@obyezeks: On my way to London this morning for my @BBCHARDtalk appearance billed for tomorrow and the SSS has detained me by withholding my passport.”
“At that point, I brought out my phone to record him even as I asked for the passport. He got angry and charged at me that he would seize my phone. Then his colleague screamed at him a third time to handover the passport. He did,” she said.
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan condemns the bombings in Kaduna today which appeared to have targeted former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and prominent Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi.
President Jonathan denounces the dastardly targeting of the prominent political and religious leaders by terrorists and enemies of the nation in an odious attempt to inflame passions and exacerbate disquiet, fear, insecurity and sectional divisions in the country.
While thanking God Almighty for sparing the lives of General Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, the President extends sincere condolences to the families of those who were sadly killed by the bomb blasts.
President Jonathan also commiserates with all those who were injured in the twin bombings in this Holy Month of Ramadan which defy the tenets of Islam, and provide further proof that the terrorists are nothing but blood-thirsty extremists bent on undermining the unity and progress of the nation.
The President assures residents of Kaduna and all other Nigerians that the Federal Government will continue and further intensify its ongoing efforts to effectively curb the menace of terrorism in the country.
He has specifically directed the Police and other national security agencies to take all necessary actions to apprehend the perpetrators of today’s attacks on Kaduna and urges all residents of the city to give them the fullest possible cooperation and support as they work to bring the terrorists to justice.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
July 23, 2014