Nigerian security operatives claim my arrest was a case of mistaken identity, says Arogundade

The Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC) Lanre Arogundade, who was held at the airport by Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service (SSS), at Murtala International Airport on return from Gambia said the operatives claimed that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity

Penpushing reports that, Arogundade while narrating his ordeal with the operatives recalled that, the incident was not the first time, he would be subjected to such treatment without justification from the authorities.

“For as long as I’ve been travelling now, if I get to the airport and I present my passport for normal immigration protocol, once the DSS  official who normally collects it, their official, they would ask me to hold on, they would take the passport to another official, and sometimes to a third official, converse among themselves’ Arogundade stated

“And sometimes they will ask me to come; they will be asking me questions, ‘where are you going?’ ‘What do you do?’ Sometimes they will ask me to write the address of my organisation at the back, despite having filled the form, and just waste my time. On a few occasions, I almost missed my flight. So, partly because of them I try to arrive at the airport early because it has become a ritual.”

Penpushing further reports that, the renowned journalist recalled, he had similar experience while leaving for The Gambia on January 30th, and had to asked the security operatives why they are always doing that.

The Director said after his flight touched down at around 3.10 p.m., on getting to the checking counter, about 20 minutes later, a security agent collected his passport, checked on it and thereafter asked him to step out of the line and follow him.

“I followed him. He took me to one senior immigration official, he first discussed with that one, I didn’t know what they were discussing. Then that one collected my passport and went to another system and started asking me questions. ‘What is your name?’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘Where are you coming from?’

“I said look what are all these questions about? You are holding my passport and you’re asking me who I am, don’t you have the information there? Do I look different from what you have there?”

Penpushing also reports that, Arogundade sharing his experience said following his refusal   to answer immigration official’s questions, one of the security operatives collected the passport back and ordered him to follow him

“When I followed him, I asked him ‘where are we going?’ He said to their office. Of course he had my passport with him; I had not collected my luggage. So I followed him to their office’, he recalled.

“When we got to their office, he gave my passport to a senior official there, as assistant director. He first spoke with him; I didn’t know what they were saying… So that one was saying that I’m getting annoyed and I said ‘why won’t I get annoyed?’”

The Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), explained that while the incident was going on, he phoned his lawyer, Olumide Fusika (SAN), and some colleagues to let them know about his ordeal.

“When I got to their office, I took a selfie. Then after that I said let me even take the picture of the office. When I took the picture, another official there got annoyed and snatched my phone from me and said I was doing illegal filming of their office. I said under what section of the constitution is it illegal to take photograph of where I’m being held?’”

Penpushing reports that, Arogundade said, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) later spoke with the senior official of the State Security Service (SSS) to find out why he was being held, and in response the official said it was a case of mistaken identity.

“I was in their office for over one hour. At the end of the day, the official started apologising. The official accompanied me back to the immigration, they now said they have stamped my passport, followed me to collect my luggage and even escorted me out”, he said

Penpushing further reports that, Arogundade who recalled that he had always being harassed at the airport ever since the days of military rule, added that at one time he was questioned at departure for sometime, before his passport was later given to him, when he was almost missing his flight.

The Director declared that, on this latest harassment on his person, he has resolved to take legal action, stressing that he needs to know why he should always be subjected to such humiliation, adding that if the authority has any issues with him they should make it public

“I’m definitely taking legal action. I need to know why because I don’t want to travel and then become afraid.  So that if they are having any issue let them say it openly and then we can go and argue it in court.”

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