KanyiDaily had reported that Onumah was arrested on Sunday evening by personnel of (DSS at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja, when he returned to Nigeria from Spain where he recently bagged a doctorate in communication studies.
Mart Obono, a lawyer and Onumah’s associate, has confirmed that activist was released on Sunday night, hours after he was taken into custody by DSS.
We gathered that Onumah was picked by operatives of the DSS at about 4pm on Sunday because he wore a t-shirt with the title of his recent book, “We Are All Biafrans” printed on it.
“The officers approached him and asked him whether he was a Nigerian, to which Chido responded, ‘I am Nigerian’,” a source familiar with the situation told reporters.
They then asked him why he was wearing a shirt with the inscription, ‘We Are All Biafrans’ and he replied that that was the title of his recent book.
“They took him to their office in Central Abuja for questioning under the guise of intelligence of a planned protest.
“At the office, after many hours of interrogation, they eventually let him go at about 10:30 pm,” the source said.
Reacting to the arrest of Onumah, DSS explained that it only interacted with him on a t-shirt he wore on his way into Abuja town from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, the secret police said the wordings on the t-shirt: “We are all Biafrans,” was capable of attracting mob attack to Onumah. The statement reads:
“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 Service 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.”