By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA – Media mogul and founding chairman of the African Independent Television, AIT, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi has blamed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for his ordeal in the hands of the nation’s security agencies.
Dokpesi who was Wednesday invited for questioning by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, disclosed this to newsmen after spending about three hours at the NIS headquarters.
According to him, government is bent on stopping him from travelling abroad where he has been seeking medicare in the past few months, saying the NIS is intent on impounding his passport, which in his words, is in the custody of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
He said: “Definitely if I had brought my passport today, they would have impounded it, that is what it is. There are no two ways about it but the passport is with the court. But even if they decide to do so, like I said the passport is a property of the federal republic of Nigeria, so they can request for it.
“I just returned from a medical trip overseas last Friday, March 22nd 2019 when I was arrested for between 50 to 55 minutes at the airport. I was told that they had instructions from above to arrest me on my return but after a few phone calls and contacts, the immigration officer at the airport told me that he had instructions from above that I could leave and he gave me back my passport and told me that I should go and that they would reach me subsequently.
“On Monday, I received new information and in line with the normal process, I returned my passport to the Federal High Court since I travelled under a judicial approval or permission. So I returned my passport and gave notice that I might have to go for a medical check up so that they will ensure that the operation was successful and that all the organs and everything are properly healed.
“So when I got the letter yesterday (Tuesday) 26th, I replied that same yesterday notifying them that I had returned the passport to the Federal High Court and that it has been duly acknowledged and added all the necessary information and so on.
“But the officers who interrogated me said that they had expected me to go back to the Federal High Court and and obtained the passport with their letter of invitation and I told them that I totally deferred from that line of thought.
“If you the immigration service with the instruction from above requires my passport, then write directly to the Federal High Court and request for the passport. If you like, you can copy me for me to be able to go there and say, look I am supposed to be a courier, has the Court approved it and I will return it clearly, but that did not happen and that made us have altercations and tempers went very high.
“But I stood my ground and said, well I am a Nigerian citizen, I have travelled out for my medical treatment. I am back to the country and I voluntarily came back and has handed over my passport to the appropriate authority. They were telling me that passport was a property of the federal government and federal government has a right to withdraw it at any time.
“Granted passport is a property of the federal government and federal government has a right to withdraw it but I am also a citizen of the federal Republic of Nigeria and there is a judicial process, there is rule of law. Why should we not go through the judicial process and be able to define what is required?”
Dokpesi who was queezed for two and a half hours at the Comptroller General’s Investigation Department and was finally allowed to go home at about 3:10 PM, said he had a feeling he would be invited again.
On whether he suspected any foul play, the Weppa-Wanno Edo state High Chief said no, adding however that his ordeal “is the handiwork of the Buhari federal government.”
He further reiterated his commitment to seek justice in court saying, “Honestly there is nothing I can do. I am already in court. We have challenged Order 6 and all the Orders that are there. I am a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is through my own sweat that I went for treatment.”
Earlier, NIS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sunday Abraham fielded questions from journalists at the service’ headquarters and advanced reasons for inviting Dokpesi this way:
“Mr. Dokpesi was invited by the Nigeria Immigration Service for official-related issues and he has been released. But I can’t discuss the issues with you now.
“Mr. Dokpesi is a high-profile individual so until we are able to finish the issues we are looking at, we can’t disclose them,” he said
While ruling out any ulterior motive, Abraham noted that NIS was simply “doing its official assignment and when it is due for the public to know the outcome, they will know,” even as he claimed that Dokpesi was treated with utmost sense of decorum while his stay lasted.
He continued: “All Nigerians are treated the same way, with high standards particularly when it is related with the operation of the Immigration service. We don’t undermine Human Rights and we don’t undermine the standard of practice. Every person that is treated by the NIS is treated with the best practice.”
When asked if the service would consider inviting the AIT founder in the days ahead, he replied: “If there is any need to invite him again, why not?”
Dokpesi was led out of the Investigation Department by NIS Comptroller General, Mohammed Babandede, who stopped journalists from speaking with his guest at the NIS premises.