The founder of Daar Communications Limited, Raymond Dokpesi, has denied ever travelling out of Nigeria illegally.
Mr Dokpesi said he has already contacted his lawyers to consider legal actions against the federal government over the allegations against him.
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES in his residence in Abuja on Saturday, Mr Dokpesi said all his trips outside the country, particularly between November 2018 and March this year, have been well documented both at the points of exit and entry at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Mr Dokpesi was reacting to a statement by the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, that he was quizzed by immigration officials over alleged violation of the Nigerian immigration laws.
Last Thursday, PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Dokpesi, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was quizzed by immigration officials in their office in Abuja over allegations he travelled out of the country and returned through routes suspected to be illegal.
Mr Babandede told this newspaper that immigration authorities were not aware how Mr Dokpesi left the country — whether through the land, air or sea. He alleged that the media owner’s international passport was not stamped by immigration officials prior to his departure or during his return.
In reaction, Mr Dokpesi described the allegation by the immigration boss as not only “very misleading”, but also “very very untrue.”
Mr Dokpesi said between November 26, 2018, and March 22, 2019, he travelled out of the country twice – to the United Kingdom and to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirate, for medical attention.
“Initially I left Nigeria on Emirates Airlines on November 26, 2018. I went through the Abuja International Airport and came back through Abuja International Airport. Photocopies of my current passport, on page 60, show the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) stamped on it on November 26.
“When I came back from that trip on December 22, 2018. Again, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) stamped NIS on my passport.
“Again, I left Nigeria on the evening of March 8, 2019, the eve of the rescheduled governorship elections held on March 9, I went through the airport here in Abuja. I have my flight tickets. I also went on Emirate Airlines. The immigration service stamped NIS on my passport.
“When I came back on March 22, 2019, the immigration service also stamped NIS on my passport.
“So, how can the immigration service say they do not have my records? If they do not have the records of my departure and arrival in the country, then it means the Federal Republic of Nigeria is wasting its resources sustaining the immigration department.
“It means the millions being voted in the budget for immigration service are being embezzled by people in this administration who must be held accountable for it.
“So, I don’t know how the issue came that immigration said they issued a special point to the effect that I did not go through immigration at the airport when I travelled,” Mr Dokpesi lamented.
He said considering his political stature in the society, it was inconceivable to think he would be using fake documents to travel abroad.
According to him, each time he required a replacement of his international passport, he was always served directly from the Comptroller General of Immigration’s Office.
“Each time I’ve had to replace my passport, I go to the Comptroller General’s Office and wait for the passport, apart from snapping my photograph. Therefore, I have never had any illegitimate passport. It is from the Office of the Comptroller General that they always prepared my passport,” he said.
Blames NIA, DSS for ordeal
Despite his ordeal in the hands of immigration officials on his return to the country on March 22, Mr Dokpesi said he owed the agency no grudges.
Rather, he blamed his travails on the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and State Security Service (SSS), which he said he strongly suspects were behind his recent problems.
“I don’t have any problem with the immigration. I don’t believe they are the ones behind all these. I am absolutely confident it is not immigration. I guess it is either from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) or SSS.
“I know all that is going on. I am keeping quiet, even on the main case about the N2.1 billion from Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) for services rendered, I am just keeping quiet.
“But, if they put hands into my mouth, I will vomit and tell them the whole story of the things that are involved. I verily believe the DSS has sinister reasons that go beyond the official explanations. They are only using immigration as cover,” he said.
Immigration Not Convince
When contacted for further clarification on why Mr Dokpesi was still questioned despite evidence his international passport was duly stamped while travelling, the Comptroller General of Immigration said the agency still needed to see the document.
During the interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Dokpesi presented copies of his international passport showing the official stamps of the NIS while departing and returning to Nigeria.
But, the Comptroller-General told this newspaper he would not comment on Mr Dokpesi’s claims until immigration officials have seen his international passport.
“We asked him to bring the passport for sighting, he refused. How come it was not possible to show the passport to immigration officials, but he is able to show it to the media?” he said.
Mr Dokpesi had earlier said he submitted his international passport to the court which granted him permission to travel while being tried for alleged corruption.
The immigration chief, however, said as far as the immigration service was concerned, Mr Dokpesi was still on a travel ban and should not have travelled out of the country for any purpose.
“How he was able to travel despite the ban imposed on him is a subject of investigation. At the end of our investigation, if any immigration official is found to have compromised his office and assisted him, such a person will bear the full consequence of his indiscretion,” Mr Babandede warned.
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