Chido Onumah was never arrested – DSS

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•Dr Chido Onumah

ABUJA – The Department of State Security (DSS) has said that it never arrested human rights activist, Dr Chido Onumah, who arrived Nigeria on Sunday but simply took him for an interaction.

 Onumah, coordinator of African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), was arrested was at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after collecting his luggage on arrival in the country on Sunday.

His arrest had drawn widespread criticism from Nigerians and groups who called for his immediate release.

However, the DSS said that he was invited for wearing a T-shirt with the inscription: “We Are All Biafrans”.

The inscription on the shirt is the exact title of a book Onumah authored three years ago where he highlighted some of the challenges of the country and made a strong case for restructuring.

According to a statement by the Public Relations Officer, DSS National Headquarters, Abuja, Dr Peter Afunaya, Onumah was only engaged in an interaction during which an act of his capable of undermining public order and national security was explained to him.

It reads: “The Department of State Services wishes to make clarifications regarding media reports that Dr Chido Onumah was arrested by the Service.

“To set the records right, Onumah was never arrested by the Service. He was rather engaged in an interaction during which an act of his capable of undermining public order and national security was explained to him.

“On his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on 29th September, 2019, it was discovered that Onumah wore a T-shirt with WE ARE ALL BIAFRANS inscription on it.

“With credible intelligence that he might be a subject of mob attack if allowed to go into town in same cloth, the Service invited him and drew his attention to the implications of his probable (un)intended action.

“It was strongly believed that an attack on Onumah would have sparked ethno-religious reprisals with dire consequences for law and order and public safety in the country.

“He understood the issues and pledged not to engage in activities that may cause disaffection in Abuja and the country at large.

“He subsequently removed the cloth with the inciting symbols and inscriptions and agreed not to use it.

“The interaction between Onumah and the Service held in a convivial atmosphere.

“He appreciated the courtesies extended to him. Afterwards, the Service arranged for him to go back to his accommodation in town.

“It is hoped that this clarification has dispelled the erroneous claims and reportage that he was arrested.

“The Service acted within the confines of its mandate and only carried out its routine security duty that could have been discharged by a similar agency in any part of the world.

“It is not out of place for concerned security agencies to have sought clarification from a traveller concerning a subject of security interest.

“The DSS reaffirms its avowed commitment to the rule of law and protection of citizens and national critical assets.”

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