Chairman of DAAR Communications, owners of African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, was on Wednesday interrogated for about an hour at the national headquarters of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) over his international passport.
The media magnate had been arrested by security personnel believed to have been detailed from the Department of State Service at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, on his return from medical check up abroad last Friday.
On Wednesday, the politician, who was again invited by the Immigration and was questioned at the Comptroller General’s Investigation Department.
He arrived there at 2.00pm and was released about an hour later after the interrogation.
Emerging from the session, Dopkesi told reporters that Immigration Service demanded for his international passport which he said was in the custody of the Federal High Court.
He said since he has an ongoing case at the courts, he passport had been deposited with the court to which he normally applied for permission to travel and return the document afterwards.
Dopkesi said the plan of the Immigration Service was to impound his passport as part of intimidation attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He narrated his experience: “When I got the (invitation) letter yesterday 26th, I replied that same yesterday 26th notifying them that I have 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 obtain the passport with their letter of invitation and I told them that I totally defer from that line of thought.”
“I have returned, I got the passport from the Federal High Court, I have returned the passport to the Federal High Court. If you the Immigration Service with the instruction from above require 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 a rule of law. Why should we not go through the judicial process and be able to define what is required?”
On whether he thought his passport would have been impounded, Dopkesi 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.”
He blamed his travails on President Buhari, who he alleged was intent on intimidating him and other prominent opposition politicians.
“I do not suspect any foul play, I can only say what I know but honestly this is the handiwork of the Buhari federal government,” he declared, adding: “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.”
Also speaking to journalists on Dopkesi’s visit, the spokesman of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Sunday James, said Dokpesi was invited for “official-related issues.”
While noting that the media mogul had since been released, he said he could not discuss the details of the case.
James added: “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.
“Immigration is just doing its official assignment and when it is due for the public to know the outcome, they will know.”
On whether it was normal to invite high profile Nigerians on return from abroad, the Immigration spokesmen declared: “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.”
He said Dokpesi would be called back by the Service if the need arose.