One of the lawyers who provided legal aid to #EndSARS protesters, Moe Odele is yet to get back her passport five days after it was seized by officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
Ms Odele, a tech and startup lawyer with international experience, was on her way to the Maldives on Sunday when she was stopped from boarding her flight by the NIS.
Her passport was subsequently taken from her.
At the airport on November 1, Odele sought clarity on why her passport was being held back and gathered that she was being investigated by an intelligence agency over charges unknown to her.
At the height of the #EndSARS protests across the country last month, Ms. Odele had helped to secure the release of many protesters detained by the police.
On Thursday, after several calls by Nigerians online demanding for the release of Ms. Odele’s passport, the NIS spokesman, Mr. Sunday James, told the Punch Newspaper that Odele’s passport had not been seized because of her #EndSARS activities but as part of a “routine assignment” to comply with an order to restrict Ms. Odele from leaving the country.
The immigration spokesman’s comment did not clarify why Ms. Odele was being restricted from leaving the country.
“Holding on to my passport without giving me any reason for it is a breach of my constitutional right,” Ms. Odele said on Twitter on Thursday evening. “I’ve not been informed of any investigation against me, I’m not running. I am here. Investigate. Ask me questions but do not continue to hold on to my passport with NO reasons.”
On November 3, the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for the nation’s internal security and oversees the NIS, had said it “did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list” targeted at #EndSARS protesters.
The Ministry was responding to a report by an online publication, Peoples Gazette, which, quoting three unnamed sources, claimed the Ministry of Interior was targeting hundreds of Nigerians who had been involved in the protests.
In a legal notice to the publication on September 4, the Ministry said the report was “unfortunate and misleading” and, again, denied its involvement in the creation of a no-fly list.
More than 24-hours after that denial, Ms. Odele’s passport is yet to be released.
“What is so ironic is that as a kid, I grew up hearing stories like this of folks having passports seized with no reasons,” Ms. Odele said on Thursday. “They sounded like faraway tales that could never happen to me you know. But look at where we are now. A few hours before I turned 31, it happened to me. Wild.”
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