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DSS denies Chido Onumah’s arrest


Chido Onumah

Nigeria’s intelligence agency State Security Service said it only “engaged” Chido Onumah in interaction over an inscription on his shirt.

“To set the records right, Onumah was never arrested by the Service,” DSS’s spokesman Peter Afunnaya said in a statement.

“He was rather engaged in an interaction during which an act of his capable of undermining public order and national security was explained to him,” Afunnaya added.

Onumah, a journalist and rights activist, was picked up on Sunday evening by SSS agents after arriving at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, from Spain. He was released about five hours later amidst widespread condemnations.


The agency said “Onumah wore a T-shirt with WE ARE ALL BIAFRANS inscription on it,” hence his “invite” by the agency.

Afunnaya said should he be allowed to leave the airport with same cloth Onumah might “be a subject of mob attack.”

“It was strongly believed that an attack on Onumah would have sparked ethno-religious reprisals with dire consequences for law and order and public safety in the country,” Afunnaya said adding that Onumah removed the “cloth with the inciting symbols and inscriptions and agreed not to use it.”


The inscription is the title of a book Onumah wrote about Nigeria in 2016. The book argues that many, if not all, of the problems of Nigeria are rooted in the structure of the country.

In the book, Onumah takes on Nigeria’s indolent and reactionary ruling elite – civilian and military – and their allies, as well as bandits in uniform, scoundrels posing as statesmen, and conservative ideologues, religious bigots and ethnic chauvinists posing as patriots.

The book, a collection of essays by the journalist, focused on the need to restructure Nigeria in order to be able to build a united country.


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