Former Minister of Education and prominent campaigner for #BringBackOurGirls movement, Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili was arrested yesterday morning by people suspected to be men of the Department of State Security (DSS), at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
She was travelling to London for a scheduled engagement the BCC Hard Talk, when the operatives confiscated her travelling documents.
The former Minister is one of those championing the advocacy of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group, which she has being consistently pressurising the Nigerian government to act more decisively in rescuing the over 250 schoolgirls abducted from their dormitory by the extremist Boko Haram sect over three months ago.
The #BringBackOurGirls group has become a thorn in the flesh to the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and the government has made unsubstantiated allegations to discredit the campaigners.
She has accused the administration of widespread corruption and has repeatedly demanded accountability on the use of the nation’s oil revenues.
She was however, released after the government came under intense pressure as news of her arrest flooded the social media and travelled around the country, with many Nigerians lambasting the administration for increasingly clamping down on critics and members of the opposition.
Mrs. Ezekwesili, tweeted yesterday at around 7:37 a.m.” I was heading to London to appear on the BBC Hard talk program me but was prevented from boarding her flight by security operatives.
“Is this a democracy? I am being detained by the SSS at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The SSS has refused to give my passport to me,” she posted. “On my way to London this morning for my @BBCHARDtalk appearance, billed for tomorrow, and the SSS has detained me by withholding my passport”.
However, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) has denied reports that it detained the convener of the #Bringbackourgirls Campaign and former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili at the airport on her way to London.
The spokesperson of DSS Ms Marilyn Ogar stated this yesterday in Abuja at the National Information Centre while fielding questions from journalist on latest development in the fight against insurgency.
Ogar said Ezekwesili simply went through the same normal security check that every other passenger on the flight is supposed to through, but because she wanted to create news raised alarm.
She further said Ezekwesili assumed the department was trying to stop her from going to grant interview to BBC and Reuters so had to make hue out of it.
According to Ogar, “I do not Intend to not make her (Ezekwesili) popular; she is very unpopular. If she loves Nigeria, whatever interview she is going to grant in London, she can do it here”.
She further said the nation’s security agencies would not bow or be cowed by orchestrated campaigns to abandon their responsibility of protecting the country due to misguided individuals.
“The SSS clears all passengers using the airports. So, let people stop trying to aggregate to themselves unnecessary importance when we have serious security challenges on our hands. Security issues must not be trivialized for any reason” she noted.