The State Security Service (SSS) has removed a journalist, Lanre Arogundade, from a watchlist in which his name featured for 38 years.
SSS Director General of the Service, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, disclosed this Wednesday when a delegation from the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI Nigeria) visited him in Abuja, as part of the organisation’s ongoing high-level engagements on the safety of journalists and press freedom in Nigeria.
Mr. Arogundade, director of the Lagos-based International Press Centre (IPC), was on February 10 intercepted and detained by officers of the SSS upon his arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, from Banjul, The Gambia, where he went to train journalists on conflict reporting.
Speaking on the circumstances leading to the interception of the journalist on his arrival in Lagos, Bichi explained that the Service acted based on a decades-long watchlist, which demanded that Mr. Arogundade should be quizzed whenever he returned from a foreign country.
IPI in a statement by its Secretary, Ahmed I. Shekarau, Friday, said Bichi revealed that the journalist was put on the list during his days as the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); Mr. Arogundade was NANS president between 1984 and 1985 while he was student at the Obafemi Awolowo University.
According to the statement, the SSS DG said “after Mr. Arogundade was initially removed, there arose another case of mistaken identity triggered by a request by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
The statement also quoted Bichi to have said “We don’t intercept people willfully at airports. We do so based on requests from other government agencies, who may have issues with the persons affected.”
Those in the IPI Nigeria delegation to the SSS headquarters included its Secretary, Ahmed I. Shekarau; the Director, Digital Media, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Hajia Sani; the General Manager/CEO of Trust TV, Ibrahim Shehu; a director with Ambience Blue Communication, Tunde Ipinmisho; Deputy Editor, 21st Century Chronicle, Catherine Agbo; and Ag. Editor, People’s Daily, Sunday Ode.