State Security denies intercepting former Nigerian leader

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigeria's State Security Services (SSS) has denied stopping former number two man Augustus Aikhomu from travelling out of the country Monday night as claimed by him.
Aikhomu, who was Chief of Staff and later Vice President under the military regime of Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida (1985-93), told journalists he was stopped from travelling to London on a private visit by SSS officials, who impounded his passport and claimed to be acting on the orders of the Presidency.
The reported travel ban has been criticised by human rights campaigners.
But in a statement issued in Abuja, SSS accused the retired Admiral of "stage-managing the airport incident to ridicule the government," and denied that he was stopped on the orders of the Presidency.
"Vice Admiral Aikhomu (rtd) was aware of an outstanding security investigation which he had deliberately stalled," the SSS said, referring to reports accusing him of anti-democratic activities in his home State of Edo in Nigeria's mid- west.
"Without any regard for due process, the respected retired Admiral considered that it was more important to travel abroad for a social event than to respond to a security enquiry," the SSS said.
"Contrary to the false impression created, no one in the Presidency ordered any security action in respect of Vice Admiral Aikhomu.
The action was based on normal security considerations on the review of inputs from various sources," it said.
Aikhomu had linked his "humiliation" to his political activities, in apparent reference to his role as a founding member of a new political group, the United Nigeria Democratic Party (UNDP), which hopes to contest the 2003 general elections if registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
At the UNDP's launch 8 August, Aikhomu, who chaired the National Steering Committee, lambasted the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) for failing to guarantee the security of life and property, as well as an alleged inability to revive the economy, which he said "continues to deteriorate daily".
"We are determined as a party (UNDP) to stop the ugly habit of grabbing from the country and in its place we will emphasise the ethics of giving and of ensuring just sharing of what God has given us all," he said.

23 august 2001 12:10:00

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