How SSS almost scuttled my London trip, by Ezekwesili
•Ex-minister checked as every other Nigerian, says SSS
Former Education Minister Dr. Oby Ezekwesili was delayed yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, on her way to London.
The leader of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign almost missed her flight, having been billed to appear today on the BBC Hard Talkprogramme.
Her passport was temporarily seized by men of the State Security Service (SSS), but it was later released. As she waited for the release of her travel documents, she twitted continuously on her handle @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.
On my way to London this morning for my @BBC HARD Talkappearance billed for tomorrow and the SSS has detained me by withholding my passport.
SSS has released it. Just barely made the BA (British Airways) flight. Last to board @7.55am for an 8am flight that is now taxiing. Is this a democracy?
No one can seize my democratic right. I refused to let the SSS get away with trampling on my constitutional right.
But the Federal Government yesterday trivialised its alleged harassment of the former Education Minister.
The government, through the spokesperson of the State Security Service (SSS), Ms Maryln Ogar, denied reports that Ezekwesili, who is also the Coordinator of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, was arrested in the morning at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja.
Ogar said Ezekwesili went through the normal screening at the airport, just as every other Nigerian.
At the daily briefing at the National Information Centre (NIC), Ogar urged Nigerians to desist from trivialising security matters, which she said the alleged harassment was about.
The SSS spokesperson said the former minister, who was on her way to London at the time of the briefing, was subjected to security checks, as any other person boarding the aircraft.
She said: “I wonder where Ezekwesili is right now, because we don’t have such person in any of our detention facilities. Somebody has put same question during Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, this morning (yesterday) and they were clearly told that she is already on her way to the United Kingdom (UK).
“I wouldn’t know how people are advocating for her. You know that statutorily the SSS clears all passengers who travel out of the country or coming into the country.
“Let people stop to aggregate themselves unnecessary importance. When we have serious security challenges in our hands, security issues must not be short-changed for any reason.”
Also, NIC Coordinator Mike Omeri said Ezekwesili’s action was tantamount to ridiculing the country before the international community.
He said: “So, if you are going through this (security) process and because you have access to he social network, the next thing is to tweet that you have been detained by the Department of State Security (DSS). I think this kind of thing is wrong. It is deadly. Why are we ridiculing our country?” Omeri urged Nigerians to stop causing problems because they are out of government.
He said: “Why is that people who have the opportunity to rule this country at the highest level will now subject this country to ridicule simply because they have matters to settle with people in government or presently are not in government?
“If this Boko Haram thing is finished and Nigeria remains and they find themselves in government again, is this how they expect to be treated? Or, what would they do to the country they have so destroyed?”
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