The Nigeria Immigration Service prevented Modupe Odele, a lawyer, who volunteered her services to help free peaceful protesters detained by law enforcement agents from leaving the country.
In a newsletter she sent out on Monday, the Columbia University graduate detailed how she had gone to the airport to take a flight to the Maldives for her birthday but was detained.
She said, “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
After her ordeal went viral on social media, outraged Nigerians began to trend the hashtag #FreeMoeSexy.
Commenting on the incident on Tuesday morning, she tweeted, “Hello everyone. Thank you so much. I’m fine and I’m safe. We haven’t confirmed yet why I was stopped on Sunday or by whom. But I’ve been invited back with my lawyers today. I’ll update when I have more information but please don’t spread false news. That is dangerous.”
Meanwhile the Nigerian Government has denied a ‘no-fly list’ of young Nigerians protesting police brutality in the country after a report exposed the plan.
Already, a few Nigerians have reportedly had their passports seized while attempting to leave the country.
The Ministry of Interior in a tweet on Tuesday said, “The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list. Ignore fake news, please!”