Federal Government, Odele differ on passport seizure
• Women group flays harassment of activists by govt
The Federal Ministry of Interior has denied preventing #EndSARS campaigner, Ms Modupe Odele, from travelling out of the country. Following a purported no-fly list generated by the Federal Government on leaders of the protests, government officials reportedly seized Odele’s passport.
“The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list. No-fly list generation is the responsibility of the ministry or associated agencies,” the ministry stated yesterday in Abuja.
But Odele wondered who seized the document, if none of the ministry’s agencies was involved in the seizure. She said: “Fantastic! Since there isn’t one, why has my passport not been released? Why was it taken? When will it be released? What is being investigated? If she is being investigated, why hasn’t she been invited to answer questions?”
The activist hinted yesterday that five days after government agent(s) seized her international passport, no explanation had been offered her.
“Today (Thursday) is the fifth day and my passport is still being held after it was seized at the Lagos international airport. If there’s no no-fly list, that’s okay; but why has my passport not been released yet?”
She described the seizure of her passport, for no reason, as a breach of her constitutional right, since she was billed to travel on November 1, 2020.
THE Feminist Womanifesto (#NigerianWomenArise) has also condemned the continued harassment of EndSARS activists by the government.
It also condemned reports of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and State Security Services (SSS) confiscating the passport of Odele, a Nigerian attorney and co-lead of EndSARSLegal, an initiative that provided free legal aid to the protesters.
According to the group, as a Nigerian citizen, Section 41 of the Constitution guarantees Ms. Odele the right to move freely in and out of Nigeria, adding that any restriction of her movement is illegal and unconstitutional.
In a statement on behalf of the group yesterday in Abuja, the Executive Director, Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, explained that section 5 of the Passport Act 1985 gave the Minister of Interior the power to cancel or withdraw a passport.
She stressed that the section also stated clearly the conditions for such withdrawal, noting that “unless the minister was furnished with confidential information not available in the public space, we see no legal reason(s) Ms Odele’s passport should be confiscated.”
Akiyode-Afolabi added that “such act is tantamount to infringement and intimidation, both of which call into question Nigeria’s commitment to fundamental democratic principles and could cause reputational damage to the country at home and on the international stage.”
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