President Obama and British Prime Minister Brown at the airport.

[Guardian Unlimited, U.K.]



Daily Independent, Nigeria

After U.S. Terror Scare, Nigerians are Being 'Unduly Stigmatized'


"We fear that innocent Nigerians are being subject to humiliation and discrimination due to no fault of their own; Nigerians are being unduly stigmatized."


-- Eneruvie Enakoko, Lagos Chairman of Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organization


By Paul Arhewe, Rafiu Ajakaye (Lagos) and Chinedu Offor (Washington)


December 30, 2009


Nigeria - Daily Independent - Original Article (English)

Troubled Youth: Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab has been charged by the United States with attempting to blow up an aircraft which was enroute from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Nigeria Minister of Information and Communications 'embarrassed' by suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Dec. 30, 00:01:01RealVideo

As Vice President Goodluck Jonathan predicted on Sunday, traveling Nigerians have come up against restrictions in Europe and the United States - the sequel to the attempted downing of an aircraft by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, who was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen.


U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive visa policy review and has tightened rules for Nigerians, particularly students and those between the ages of 20 and 60.


For those travelling through Amsterdam, the government has approved the use of the controversial body scanning device that sees through clothing in order to detect explosive devices on the body. Within weeks, The Netherlands is to introduce body scanners on all U.S. flights.


Dutch Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst said that Abdul Mutallab raised no concerns as he passed through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. She enthused that within three weeks, the airport would use body scanners on all flights to the U.S. and that they would be a permanent fixture.


These measures justify Nigerian fears that they'll be singled out for special security attention. But the U.S. State Department sought to assure, saying that the policy isn't to punish Nigerian students of those who have genuine business in America, but to plug loopholes through which potential terrorists might enter.


"The new policy is evolving, but in line with Obama’s directive: those whose visa applications have been turned down will not be reconsidered, and those with questions on their applications will be turned down," U.S. State Department officials disclosed.   



New security measures approved by the White House include a thorough body search of all Nigerian visitors to the U.S.; a mandatory seating of all passengers one hour before arrival; a ban on pillows, the carrying of bags or electronic devices on laps and additional deployments of armed marshals on flights into the country.


"Any passenger who doesn't cooperate with aircraft personnel will be detained and taken off the plane at the nearest airport. The new restrictions don't target any nation but are in the overall security interest of America," the White House explained.




Yemen Times, Yemen: Al-Qaeda at Yemen Protest Warns Yemenis Not to Resist

Le Figaro, France: Al-Qaeda: Obama Must Walk in the Footsteps of Bush

NRC Handelsblad, Netherlands: Terror and the Illusion of Complete Safety

The Daily Sun, Nigeria: Christmas Bomb Suspect's Family Issues Statement

Elaph, United Kingdom: America Should 'Hire Private Jets for Muslims'


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However, based on complaints by citizens in the Diaspora of their "improper treatment" since the attempted downing of the Detroit-bound flight by Abdul Mutallab, the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) cautioned Washington against treating all Nigerians as potential terrorists.


The CLO Chairman in Lagos, Eneruvie Enakoko, maintained in a statement that most Nigerians are peace loving and that Abdul Mutallab's actions should be treated as an isolated case.


"While we once again thoroughly condemn the aborted terrorist attack, we are concerned by the avalanche of complaints from Nigerians, both at home and abroad, over the improper treatment being received over the past few days. We fear that innocent Nigerians are being subject to humiliation and discrimination due to no fault of their own; Nigerians are being unduly stigmatized," Enakoko said.


He called on the international community, particularly the U.S., to exercise patience and control … and not give the blanket name of terrorist to Nigerians or regard Nigeria as a haven for terrorists.


"The average Nigerian born and raised in this country isn't willing to die much less take to such extremism, even in the midst of excruciating poverty and unbearable hardship."


Enakoko reminded the international community, particularly the United States, that before the botched attack, the suspect’s father lodged a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Abuja about his son's unusual behavior.



Enakoko also urged Nigerian leaders to tackle the menace of poverty, insecurity, and injustice in the country.


And as part of measures to improve security, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Director General Harold Demuren disclosed on Wednesday that full body 3D scanners will be installed in airports next year.


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