Immigration seized my passport, stopped me from travelling — #EndSARS advocate
A member of of the Feminist Coalition, Modupe Odele, has alleged that the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, stopped her from travelling out of the country.
The Feminist Coalition is the promoter of the #EndSARS protest, which raised about N147 million.
Odele, a lawyer who was actively involved in the campaign, offered legal aid to persons who were arrested during the demonstrations.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has however denied the allegation, saying that the Federal Government did not put names of #EndSARS protesters on a no-fly list.
In a newsletter on Monday, Odele had narrated how she was stopped at the airport while on her way to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday.
She said the immigration officer who accosted her, said the action was ordered “from above”, adding that she saw a “wanted poster” of herself on the officer’s computer.
The lawyer, who disclosed that she was detained and had her passport seized, said: “For my birthday, I had planned a trip to the Maldives. It was really for a break as the events of the last three weeks have exhausted my mind and body in a way I have never been exhausted in my life.
“I went to the airport, passed through immigration, and while I was putting my bags through the body and baggage scanner, the immigration officer who had previously cleared me, called me back. He told me he had orders from above to detain me.
“Okay, at this point I’m like excuse me, my flight is in an hour. On what grounds are you detaining me? He didn’t respond. Instead, he went to his computer, typed in my name and something that looked like a ‘wanted poster’ popped up on the portal.
“He blocked my view, so I couldn’t see most of it but I saw some of it. And it read something like – ‘This person is under investigation by XYZ Intelligence Agency. If seen, they should be apprehended on sight.
“They held me for a little over an hour, seized my passport and I missed my flight. My passport is still seized up until this very moment and I have still not been made aware of what I am under investigation for.”
Also in a Twitter post yesterday, Odele said she was safe, adding that she had been invited back with her lawyers.
But the Federal Government denied putting names of #EndSARS protesters on a no-fly list.
A no-fly list is a register of people banned from boarding commercial aircraft for travel within, into, or out of a country.
An online news outlet had reported that a no-fly list of “hundreds of Nigerians” the government suspects of energising the #EndSARS protest was being compiled.
The news outlet alleged that Interior Minister, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, was responsible for the list.
But in a tweet yesterday, the Ministry of Interior dismissed the claim, describing it as fake news.
“The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list. Ignore fake news please!” the ministry tweeted.
The report was published after the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, reportedly stopped Modupe Odele, a member of the Feminist Coalition, from travelling out of the country.
Reacting on the issue, human right activist, Barrister Monday Ubani said: “It is a very shocking thing to do. That was somebody that participated in the End SARS protest. The proper thing is to explain why she was disallowed from traveling. You cannot just seize somebody’s passport. Apart from explaining that she is not on no-fly list, government needs to apologize to her in national newspapers and return her passport. I think the government has embarrassed itself over this.”
Noting that the remand orders were awaiting the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution on the fate of the detainees, the lawyers observed that Nigerian prison “has failed or refused to take in the affected people pursuant to which they have been taken to several police stations around Lagos where they are currently remanded under degrading and inhuman conditions.”
Titled “DPP’S Legal Advice on #EndSARS Detainees,” the letter read: “We are concerned that given the number of defendants, their right to dignity of human persons as secured under the 1999 Constitution may be imperiled.”
The lawyers also noted reports of human rights abuses, leading up to the detention and arraignment of the citizens.
They noted that the high number of defendants had a potential to clog the justice system, and urged Onigbanjo to ensure that “Legal Advice be issued within the next three working days, consistent with your pledge.’’
The lawyers also urged Onigbanjo to use his good offices to ensure that those innocent are were released immediately, while asking to be availed with copies of the Legal Advice when available.
The branch has a network of lawyers under its Police Duty Solicitor Scheme, PDSS, and Court Duty Solicitor Scheme who offer free legal assistance to indigent citizens and #ENDSARS detainees.