Upon arrival from Banjul, Gambia Nigerian Guild of Editors Condemns Arrest It was a harrowing experience for Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) as he was arrested by Officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) upon his arrival from Banjul, Gambia, Thursday afternoon, at the International airport, Ikeja. Unlike the other
Upon arrival from Banjul, Gambia
Nigerian Guild of Editors Condemns Arrest
It was a harrowing experience for Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) as he was arrested by Officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) upon his arrival from Banjul, Gambia, Thursday afternoon, at the International airport, Ikeja.
Unlike the other passengers who were allowed free passages, Mr. Arogundade was pulled aside at the immigration entry point and handed over to Officers of Department of State Services like a criminal on a special watch list.
Befuddled and bewildered Arogundade, who could not understand why he was being pulled aside and his passport withheld quickly made phone calls to his Lawyers and professional colleagues on the unfolding scenario.
According to him, “I was denied access to my luggage and marched to the DSS office at the airport for further interrogation”.
A veteran of several state harassments as President of National Association of Nigerian students (NANS) in the 1980s and as Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalist in the 1990s, under the military rule, Mr. Arogundade kept making calls to as many of his friends and colleagues as possible to the consternation of the DSS Officers.
This prompted one the Officers to seize his telephone set from him but unknown to him more than enough phone calls had gone out to make the news go viral. Like a wild fire in the harmattan season, the news spread through the airwaves and the internet was abuzz prompting senior journalists and Editors to swing into action making contacts to ascertain why Arogundade was being detained.
Soon after, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) succeeded in putting a call through to Arogundade’s line but the phone had been detained by the DSS official. Arogundade advised the Officer to pick the call. The caller introduced himself as President NGE and insisted on speaking with Arogundade who explained to him that he did not understand why he was being held against his wish.
Arogundade explained to him that he had committed no offence to warrant his arrest and detention. He further narrated that he encountered a similar predicament when he was delayed on his way out of the country, ”that lasted for about 30 minutes”.
A statement from the Guild of Editor’s President, Mr. Mustapha Isah on the incident said Arogundade’s arrest was a case of mistaken identity. Said he: “I just spoke with the Head of the DSS at the airport, through Lanre’s phone. He said it was a case of mistaken identity, and that they (DSS) have no case against him. He has been released after an apology and his passport is about to be stamped for him to leave the airport.
“Lanre told me this wasn’t the first time this was happening. I told the Officer when a case of mistaken identity happens all the time, it means something is wrong.
“The Nigerian Guild of Editors totally condemns this harassment. Lanre Arogundade is doing a tremendous job in promoting media freedom in Nigeria, we are fully behind him”
After going through the unnecessary trauma for hours, Arogundade was released and wrote on his Facebook page: 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 later.
Further narrating his ordeal, Mr. Arogundade said the Head of the DSS apologized to him very profusely and escorted him to his vehicle to bid him goodbye.
Mr. Arogundade was returning from Banjul, the Gambia where he had gone to facilitate a training workshop for Gambian journalists on Sensitive Conflict reporting, hate speech and fact-checking. The training which was sponsored by UNESCO had in attendance very top Gambian government officials including the Minister for Information Hon. Ebrima Sillah and the UN Resident Coordinator, Gambia Ms.Seraphine Wakana.