This Day (Lagos)

5 May 2014

Nigeria: Again, FG Bars Sanusi From Travelling, Seizes His Passport

The Department of State Service (DSS) at the weekend prevented the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, from boarding a Turkish airline flight for a planned trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.

According to an online news medium, Premuim Times, operatives of the DSS based at the Aminu Kano International Airport also seized Sanusi's passport and told him they would not allow him to travel abroad unless they received clearance from their Abuja headquarters.

The action of the DSS however, appears to be a contravention of the April 3 judgment of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which restrained the agency and the Nigeria Police from arresting or harassing the CBN governor or seizing his passport.

Sanusi's spokesperson, Muyiwa Adekeye, said the governor had arrived the Kano airport for the 11:10p.m. Turkish Airlines flight to Turkey where he would have connected another flight to Saudi Arabia.

But after the CBN governor had been checked in by the airline and was about to complete immigration formalities, his passport was confiscated by the DSS operatives at the immigration cubicle who told him he could not travel.

"The DSS officials were shown the certified true copies of the court order which barred them from harassing or arresting him," Adekeye said.

"But the officers said they have no choice in the matter and that they were only acting on instruction from above that they should not allow the suspended governor to travel."

Adekeye added that when Sanusi insisted on reading the court order to the operatives, the officers simply disappeared with his passport and failed to return.

The development caused confusion at the airport and delayed the Turkish Airline flight. Sanusi's luggage was however later unloaded to allow the flight proceed on its journey without the embattled CBN governor.

Contacted for comments on Saturday night, the spokesperson for the DSS, Marilyn Ogar, said she was not aware of the matter. "I don't know about that please," Ogar said on telephone.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on April 3 restrained the federal government, the Nigerian police, and the SSS from arresting Sanusi and specifically ordered the DSS to immediately release his international passport unlawfully seized from him in February. Justice Buba also ordered the trio to issue public apology as well as pay N50million in damages to the CBN governor.

Delivering a judgment in a suit filed by Sanusi seeking an order restraining the police and the DSS from infringing on his fundamental rights, the judge dismissed the DSS' allegations that the suspended CBN boss was financing terrorism.

Joined in the suit were the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF; Inspector General of Police; and the SSS as first, second, and third respondents respectively. The SSS had hinged its decision to arrest Sanusi and confiscate his passport on allegations that he was aiding terrorism.

While the judge accused the Nigerian government and the DSS of presenting conflicting statement in their argument, showing that they had "acted in bad faith;" he noted that the Nigerian police were frugal by stating that they had not been briefed by anyone to investigate or arrest Sanusi.

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