The Federal Government has reacted to the claim by the Presidential Candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar alleging that agents of the state searched him and his staff in a bid to intimidate him.
In a statement released by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika late Sunday, he described the claim by the PDP Presidential flagbearer as a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines, adding that Nigerians should be aware that one of the resolutions of the Atiku team at their recently-concluded Dubai retreat was to embark on scaremongering as this.
According to the Minister, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, Immigration, health and security screening, explaining that in the event that it is a private aircraft at the charter wing, as the PDP Candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the Immìgration, customs and other security agencies.
“The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including Ministers, unless the passenger is the President of Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking further, Sirika noted that while it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former Vice President’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a former Vice President of Nigeria, stressing that the checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine.
“No one is excused from them under our laws. These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them.
Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve,” the statement read.
The former Vice President had raised the allegation via his twitter handle on Sunday evening.
I arrived to Abuja this morning to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating me and my staff.
I am committed to building a Nigeria where no citizen is intimidated by agents of state who are paid to protect them.
— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) November 11, 2018
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.