The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has explained why it seized the passport of Modupe Odele, a lawyer who offered free legal services to some protesters arrested by the police during #EndSARS protests.
The NIS comptroller general, Muhammad Babandede, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said the directive to block the activist from travelling abroad came from an unnamed security agency.
This newspaper reported that Ms Odele was prevented from traveling to Maldives to celebrate her birthday on November 1, following her role during the protests against police brutality in October.
She offered free legal aid to protesters who were arrested during #EndSARS protests through www.endsarslegalaid.co, succeeding in helping over 80 arrested protesters in securing freedom.
Nigerians later took to Twitter to trend #FreeMoeSexy. Many also called on the federal government to stop harassing citizens demanding end to security operatives brutality.
Why we seized her passport
But explaining the reason for the immigration authorities action, Mr Babandede told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview that his agency received directive from an undisclosed security agency.
He granted the interview for an earlier report published by this newspaper. That report reviewed how the federal government is using various means to victimise promoters of the nationwide protests.
“We represent all the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria at the border posts. So if there are issues concerning anyone, we are always asked to observe, check and report to the appropriate authorities. In fact, we do many things at the borders which are not known to many Nigerians. Some of them border on national security, which we don’t need to disclose to Nigerians.”
“So it was one of those issues that necessitated that we should take her passport. We have checked and we are able to finish. Now she can travel. She wanted to come but we said she could even send her lawyer, so that she can travel.”
He further argued that the NIS carried out the act to strengthen national security.
“The truth is that we don’t explain issues of national security. Even in court, we only explain to the judge without giving details. Let’s say, for instance, there is a roadblock, and security operatives stopped you to conduct searches on you, if you missed an engagement, it doesn’t mean that you can make claims.”
He concluded by saying that the service is done investigating Ms. Odele and that she was now free to pick up her passport anytime she likes.
This newspaper published earlier that the presidency has threatened to deal with persons who allowed the protests to degenerate to looting.
Speaking on a Channels Television programme, Sunday Politics, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, said Section 33 of the constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to freely protest but the law frowns at violence.
Already, there have been reported cases of arbitrary arrests and freezing of the bank accounts of some notable individuals involved in the #EndSARS protests.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...