The Department of State Services (DSS) says it did not arrest rights activist Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), but rather it tried to save him from a possible mob attack.
Naija News had reported that Onumah, who is a journalist, was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport as he returned from Barcelona, Spain, where he bagged a doctorate in communication studies.
Speaking on the purported arrest, the DSS in a statement by its spokesman, Peter Afunanya, on Monday morning, said what it had with the rights activist was “an interaction.”
“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”, said the DSS in a statement on Monday.
The DSS gave a different version of the event: “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 ethnoreligious 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. Afterward, 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 traveler 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”, the statement added.