United States of America-based journalist and newspaper columnist, Prof. Okey Ndibe, says he has been detained five times recently because the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration had declared him ‘enemy of the state’.
Speaking with P.M.NEWS Monday, Ndibe said he was detained for 10 hours at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport when he returned to the country on Saturday.
A regular columnist with Nigeria-based The Sun newspapers, Ndibe said when he was first detained at the airport on his return to Nigeria in January 2011, security operatives told him that the Yar’Adua administration had included his name in the list of ‘enemies of the state’ based on his newspaper column that was critical of government policies or activities.
He said: “that time I was informed the Yar’Adua administration put my name in the list of ‘enemies of the state’ but President Goodluck Jonathan has instructed the SSS to remove my name from the list.”
The university teacher said he doubted if his name has been removed from the list because Saturday was the fifth time he was arrested at the airport on his return to or while travelling out of the country.
He explained that when in 2011 he was detained and his US and Nigerian passports were seized, they told him it was a mistake that his name had been removed from the list. But since then, each time he returned to Nigeria or was leaving, SSS would arrest and detain him, with his Saturday ordeal being the fifth time.
He said at a time on Saturday, he was kept alone in a room and when he phoned his wife to inform her he had been arrested and detained, a security operative seized his phone.
But while he was upset and protested the treatment meted out to him, another officer calmed him down, apologised and returned his phone to him.
P.M.NEWS gathered that when the SSS boss at the airport arrived his office at about 9.15 a.m. on Sunday, he got in touch with his boss in Abuja who ordered that he should be released.
“Thereafter, I was released. The officer said it was a mistake that will not happen again,” he said.
Ndibe travelled to the U.S. in 1988 to become the founding editor of African Commentary magazine.
His childhood memoir of the Nigerian civil war entitled My Biafran Eyes published in 2008 was an award winning piece.
Presently, he teaches at the Trinity College, Connecticut, USA and Brown University, Rhodes Island.