Nigeria Protests U.S. List of Terrorist NationsPublished on Wednesday 6th January 2010
The Federal Government, yesterday, reacted to the new air-travelling security measures by the United States, US, Government which puts passengers from Nigeria, among 14 other countries, on extra-security checks if travelling to the US.
This is coming as agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, arrived in Ghana to probe the sojourn of Farouk Abdulmutallab accused of attempting to blow up a US airliner.
In another development, Nigerians in the UK are now panicking because the Metropolitan Police are said to be keeping a 24-hour surveillance over areas largely populated by Nigerians, with particular attention on Nigerians with Muslim names.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, fielding questions from newsmen in her office in Abuja, described as "unfair" the US decision to include Nigeria in the list, insisting that Nigerians do not have terrorists' tendencies.
Yesterday, the US released a list of 14 countries - Nigeria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Cuba , Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan - with directives that passengers travelling from these countries to the US by air face extra security screening. This screening includes body-pat and carry-on baggage checks.
"It is unfair to include Nigeria on the US list for tighter screening," said the minister, "because Nigerians do not have terrorists' tendency. Abdulmutalab's act was a one off-thing."
She noted that, Farouk Umar AbdulMutallab was not influenced in Nigeria. "He was not recruited or trained in Nigeria. He was not supported whatsoever in Nigeria. His behaviour is not a reflective of Nigerians and should, therefore, not be used as a yardstick to judge all Nigerians," she said.
According to the minister, it is unfair to use the action of one Nigerian to judge over 150 million Nigerians.
"A typical Nigerian does not want to die. We are peace-loving and happy people. We were even voted as the happiest people on earth," she said.
Nigerians in UK panic
Meanwhile, as a fall-out of the attempt by 23-year-old Farouk Mutallab to blow up an America- bound Delta airline, Nigerians in the United Kingdom now live in panic.
A week after the Mutallab attempt, the dust raised is yet to settle, as Nigerian residents in the UK now live in apprehension over the effect which the action of the Nigerian would have on their continued stay in the UK.
Specifically, Nigerians believed to be living in the UK illegally, have now gone into hiding for fear of being swooped on by the Metropolitan Police, who are said to be keeping a 24-hour surveillance over areas largely populated by Nigerians, with particular attention on Nigerians with Muslim name.
According to reports from UK, a Nigerian, Malam Sanni Abdul Rahman, may have unknowingly caused a stir at the Kings Cross train station in UK, when all intending passengers largely made up of whites, scampered for safety the moment he entered the train.
Abdul Rahman was dressed in a Muslim attire and was, therefore, mistaken for a terrorist or a Muslim fundamentalist. The people thought it would be suicidal to board the same train with Abdul Rahman.
The incident aptly captured the experience which innocent Nigerian residents in the UK are now going through as a result of the December 25 incident.
At the Heathrow and Gatwick airports, intending Nigerian travellers were made to go through serious and inhuman screening before being allowed to board any plane to any destination.
FBI in Ghana
Meanwhile, agents of the US FBI have arrived in Ghana to probe the sojourn in Ghana of Abdulmutallab accused of attempting to blow up the US airliner.
According to Ghana's Deputy Information Minister, Mr. James Agyenin-Boateng," The investigation will allow the FBI agents to gather more information on the suspect's stay in Ghana."
He did not say when the FBI team arrived in Ghana and how long the agents plan to stay in the country.