The recent arrest, detention and harassment of Lanre Arogundade, Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), by the Department of State Services (DSS) was not an accident or a case of mistaken identity, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Arogundade was detained by the secret police, DSS on Thursday upon his arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
The IPC director was just arriving from Banjul, The Gambia capital, where he had gone to train journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting when he was arrested. However, hours after his arrest, he was released, following public outcry, especially from the media and civil society organisations.
SaharaReporters has exclusively learnt that the arrest and detention of the journalist followed his inclusion in a list of people considered as ‘dangerous’ to airports and land borders as issued by the Presidency.
It was reliably gathered that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had purposely tagged the IPC Director as a person of interest.
“Lanre Arogundade's name was recently submitted by the Presidency as a person of interest and not that it was a case of mistaken identity.
“The presidency recently submitted a fresh list of Nigerians it considered dangerous to airports and land borders and Arogundade's name was there,” an immigration official confirmed to SaharaReporters on Sunday.
Arogundade has been one of the vocal voices against the Buhari-led Nigerian government, especially on the issues of the electoral bill and the recent Twitter ban.
His organisation and others had only weeks ago called 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 critics and harassing anti-government voices.
Similarly, only on January 12, 2021, it was reported that the government had deactivated the biometric identification of human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore.
The documents deactivated had included the activist’s national identity card, permanent voter card, passport and driver's licence.
As a result, Sowore was not able to use any of the national documents to carry out any transaction as the cards could not be read biometrically.
President Buhari’s regime did not give any explanation for the move.
After public outcry and condemnation greeted the deactivation, the government was forced to reactivate the identity cards on February 1, 2022, as also confirmed by Sowore.