The Defence Intelligence Agency of the Nigerian military is behind a no-fly list containing names of some persons, who took active parts in the recent #EndSARS protest across the country, a source at the Nigeria Immigration Service has told SaharaReporters.
A no-fly list is a register of people banned from boarding commercial aircrafts for travel within, into, or out of a country.
Recall that a number of persons, who took part in the protest had already been prevented from travelling out of Nigeria in recent days by the NIS after being informed that they were on the no-fly list and were being investigated by the authorities.
A particular case of reference is that of a lawyer, Modupe Odele, who was prevented by the NIS from making a trip to the Maldives where she was billed to celebrate her birthday.
While it was initially thought that the NIS acted alone in that incident, SaharaReporters has now confirmed that the names of Odele and other active participants in the protest were included on the list by the Defence Intelligence Agency following their efforts in rallying demonstrators at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos where Nigerian Army personnel attacked and killed several protesters on the evening of October 20, 2020.
“Odele was prevented from travelling as a result of a memo from the Nigerian military claiming that they were investigating her.
"The military sent us a no-fly list of EndSARS leaders especially agitators involved at the Lekki protest,” the NIS source told SaharaReporters.
Earlier on Monday, Odele had shared with her friends how she was stopped by NIS from travelling out of the country at the Lagos airport.
She said, “I went to the airport, passed through immigration, and while I was putting my bags through the body and baggage scanner, the immigration officer who had previously cleared me, called me back. He told me he had orders from above to detain me.
“Okay, at this point I’m like ‘excuse me, my flight is in an hour. On what grounds are you detaining me?’ He didn’t respond. Instead, he goes to his computer where he typed in my name and something that looked like a ‘wanted poster’ popped up on the portal.
“He blocked my view so I couldn’t see most of it but I saw some of it. And it read something like – ‘This person is under investigation by XYZ intelligence agency. If seen, they should be apprehended on sight."
Odele, during the nationwide protest, offered her services as a lawyer free of charge to help release scores of participants arrested and detained by the police for exercising their rights.
“I’m not a full-time activist or human rights attorney. I am a corporate lawyer at the moment so dealing with police stations isn’t my area of expertise. I did what needed to be done in the face of gross injustice and had the support of over 800 wonderful volunteer lawyers,” she said.
Following the controversy generated by news of the no-fly list, the Ministry of Interior under which the NIS falls under on Tuesday quickly distanced itself from the situation.
In a post on its Twitter handle, the ministry said, “The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list. Ignore fake news, please!”
The Nigerian Army has since confirmed that its personnel were invited by the Lagos State Government to break the peaceful protest at Lekki Toll Gate after initial denials by the military and Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Over 10 persons were killed during that incident with the Nigerian Army personnel taking away at least eight bodies to conceal the massacre.