Nigeria’s Ministry of Interior on Tuesday denied placing promoters of the #EndSARS protest in the country on no-fly list after reports emerged that it had compiled a list of many young Nigerians to be barred from leaving the country on account of their alleged roles in the protests against police brutality that rocked the country over the past weeks.
The ministry in a statement via its twitter handle, described the allegation as “fake news,” although some protesters have alleged they were prevented from traveling and their passports seized.
“The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list,” the ministry said. “Ignore fake news please!”
An online medium, the Peoples Gazette had earlier on Tuesday reported that the interior ministry had started singling out key members of the #EndSARS movement for profiling, noting in the report that Nigerian authorities have started collating a no-fly list of ‘hundreds of Nigerians’ they suspected of energizing the #EndSARS movement.
Quoting sources from the Department of State Services (DSS) the medium reported that the interior ministry, under Rauf Aregbesola, requested from the secret police whether or not it had a profile of key supporters of the protests.
According to it, a senior official of the immigration service, which is domiciled under the interior ministry, said the ministry planned to forward names of “hundreds of Nigerians” who should be targeted for overseas journey.
“We told the ministry that we have not started compiling a list of the protesters because we did not get a presidential directive to do so as of that time,” the Gazette quoted the official to have said. “But the ministry went on on its own to start collating a list for enforcement.”
The report quoted another SSS official attached to civil aviation to have said the list was yet to be formally circulated, but six people suspected of participating in #EndSARS were already prevented from traveling last week.
“I know six people have been prevented from travelling to Europe and Dubai because of the troubles they put the government through with their campaign against security workers. The immigration people are already doing their own work, but we have not received any list from the headquarters,” the official was quoted to have said.
The report also said the two SSS officials and a senior interior ministry official confirmed the compilation, with one of them describing it as “a matter of federal emergency,” on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Service on Monday prevented one of the promoters of the EndSARS protests, Modupe Odele, from travelling.
Odele, had through her Twitter handle, @Mochievous, mobilized her over 200,000 followers during the protests, while also offering free legal assistance to persons who were arrested during the peaceful demonstrations.
Odele who confirmed the development in a newsletter sent out on Monday, said she was on her way to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday when she was accosted by immigration officers.
“For my birthday, I had planned a trip to the Maldives. It was really for a break as the events of the last three weeks have exhausted my mind and body in a way I have never been exhausted in my life,” she explained.
“I went to the airport, passed through immigration, and while I was putting my bags through the body and baggage scanner, the immigration officer who had previously cleared me, called me back. He told me he had orders from above to detain me.
“Okay, at this point I’m like excuse me, my flight is in an hour. On what grounds are you detaining me?” He didn’t respond. Instead, he goes to his computer where he typed in my name and something that looked like a ‘wanted poster’ popped up on the portal.
“He blocked my view so I couldn’t see most of it but I saw some of it. And it read something like – ‘This person is under investigation by XYZ Intelligence Agency. If seen, they should be apprehended on sight.’”
According to her, she was detained while her passport was seized by the officers and she was made to miss her flight.
She said she had been able to identify the security agency that put her on the watch list, adding that she would be returning there on Tuesday.
“Since the #EndSARS peaceful protests started in Nigeria about three weeks ago, I and some super courageous women have been providing support to Nigerians as they came out to peacefully exercise their constitutional rights,” she said.
“I was specifically in charge of legal aid and so co-led www.endsarslegalaid.co where we succeeded in helping over 80 peaceful protesters who were arrested get released. It was back-breaking and emotionally tasking work but the joy that the family expressed when being reunited with loved ones made it all worth it.
“I’m not a full-time activist or human rights attorney. I am a corporate lawyer at the moment so dealing with police stations isn’t my area of expertise. I did what needed to be done in the face of gross injustice and had the support of over 800 wonderful volunteer lawyers.”
Odele stated that she had begun providing pro bono lawyers to victims of police brutality who wish to file petitions before the Judicial Panels set up by states across the country to investigate alleged incidences of police brutality