By Andy Chukwu
Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, media mogul and Chairman emeritus of Daar Communications Plc, has alleged that the Federal government is harassing him following a face-off with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) over alleged moves by the NIS to impound his Nigerian Passport.
Dokpesi in Abuja on Wednesday alleged that he has been subjected to harassment and intimidation by the NIS since his arrival from Dubai where he had gone for medical treatment.
He stated that his ordeal started at the Abuja Airport, shortly after arrival on Friday when he was “arrested and detained” by some NIS officials for about 55 minutes for no just cause.
“I was told that they have 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 will reach me subsequently,” he said.
Dokpesi, who is facing trial over alleged N2.1 billion arms deal scam, said he travelled abroad for medical treatment, after retrieving his passport from the Court Registrar with the leave of the Federal High Court, after going through a judicial process.
He stated that he returned the passport to the court on Monday, in line with the condition upon which the document was released to him by the court. The court had seized his passport in the course of the trial.
Dokpesi, however, said the NIS invited him to the headquarters on Thursday and was taken to the Interrogation Room of the Comptroller General where he was grilled for about two hours.
“They asked for my passport and I replied that I have since returned it to the Federal High Court and I availed them documents showing the court had acknowledged receiving the passport from me.
“But the officers who interrogated me said that they had expected me to go back to the Federal High Court and get back the passport with the letter of invitation they (NIS) sent to me. But I told them that I totally defer from that line of thought.
“I told them that if they had instruction from above requiring my passport, then they should write directly to the Federal High Court and request for the passport.
“They were telling me that the passport was a property of the Federal Government and that the Federal Government has a right to withdraw it at any time.
“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,” he said.
Mr. Sunday James, the Public Relations Officer of the NIS, confirmed that the Service indeed invited Chief Dokpesi for “official related issues.”
“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,” he said.
James, while assuring that the NIS would not act in any way as to undermine the human rights of any citizen neither will it undermine the standard of practice, stated that the NIS would invite Chief Dokpesi for interrogation again if there was need to do so.