The Nigerian government has freed Lanre Arogundade, the executive director of the International Press Centre, after hours of delay at the airport over passport issues.
SaharaReporters earlier on Thursday reported that Arogundade was being detained at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos State, after he was told he had no right to enter Nigeria.
“He left Nigeria for Gambia on January 30, 2022, to train Gambian journalists on sensitive reporting with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and upon his return, they flagged his international passport and may have deactivated it like they did to human rights’ activist, Omoyele Sowore,” a source had revealed.
Hours later, Arogundade said on Facebook, “To all… thanks. My passport has been returned by the DSS and I’m now just leaving the airport despite arriving since 3.30pm. I will update further.”
Speaking on the arrest, Arogundade’s lawyer, Olumide Fusika, had said, “I’m in touch with him. It’s seeming like that, like Sowore’s. His citizenship of Nigeria has been cancelled by the Department of State Services.”
Arogundade is one of the vocal voices against the Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government in the recent past, especially on the issues of the electoral bill and the Twitter ban.
His organisation and others had only weeks ago made a call on the National Assembly to prioritise the conclusion of the Electoral Bill during the legislators’ first sitting when it resumed from recess.
In Abuja at a news conference tagged: “Civil Society Statement on the need for the National Assembly to Act with Dispatch on the Electoral Bill on Resumption from Recess,” Arogundade and others such as Yiaga Africa, Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), The Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), had made the call.
The Buhari regime is notorious for silencing for critics and harassing anti-government voices.
Only on January 12, 2021, it was reported that the government deactivated the biometric identification of human rights activist and former Presidential candidate, Sowore.
The documents deactivated had included the activist’s national identity card, permanent voter card, international passport and driver license.
As a result of this, Sowore was not be able to use any of the national documents to carry out any transaction within and outside the country as the cards could not be read biometrically.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime did not give any explanation for the move.
After public outcries and condemnation greeted the deactivation, the government was forced to reactivate the identity cards on February 1, 2022, as also confirmed by Sowore.