We Protected Onumah against a Possible Mob Attack— DSS

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The Department of State Service has broken its silence over its arrest of journalist and critic of President  Buhari’s administration, Chido Onumah, saying that he was not arrested but his attention was called to an act of his capable of undermining national security.

Mr Onumah, who returned to the country on Sunday, was reported to have been arrested by the Service at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, which attracted condemnation from social commentators.

However, in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, on Sunday, DSS explained that it only protected Mr Onumah against a possible mob attack for purportedly wearing a T-shirt with “WE ARE ALL BIAFRANS” inscribed on it which is “inciting”.

Mr Afunanya stressed that the service invited the journalist, on his arrival, for a “convivial” interaction not to wear the T-shirt into town following a credible intelligence report that it might cause break down of law and order which could result to him being attacked.

He added that Mr Onumah agreed to remove the shirt with “the inciting symbols and inscriptions” and not to wear it into town while the service arranged for him to return to his accommodation in town.

The statement read; “The Department of State Service (DSS) wishes to make clarifications regarding media reports that Dr Chido Onumah was arrested by the Service. To set the records right, Onumah was never arrested by the Service. He was rather engaged in an interaction during which an act of his capable of undermining public order and national security was explained to him.

“On his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on 29th September,  2019, it was discovered that Onumah wore a T-shirt with WE ARE ALL BIAFRANS inscription on it. With credible intelligence that he might be a subject of mob attack if allowed to go into town in same cloth, the Service invited him and drew his attention to the implications of his probable (un)intended action.

“It was strongly  believed  that an attack on Onumah would have sparked ethno-religious reprisals with dire consequences for law and order and public safety in the country. He understood the issues and pledged not to engage in activities that may cause disaffection in Abuja and the country at large. He subsequently  removed the cloth with the inciting symbols and inscriptions and agreed not to use it.

“The interaction between Onumah and the Service held in a convivial atmosphere. He appreciated the courtesies extended to him. Afterwards, the Servcie arranged for him to go back to his accommodation in town.

“It is hoped that this clarification has dispelled the erroneous claims and reportage that he was arrested. The Service acted within the confines of its mandate and only carried out its routine security duty that could have been discharged by a similar agency in any part of the world. It is not out of place for concerned security agencies  to have sought clarification from a traveller concerning a subject of security interest.

“The DSS reaffirms its avowed commitment to the rule of law and protection of citizens and national critical assets.”