The serene atmosphere of the international wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja was shattered at the weekend when an intending passenger of an Emirate flight was denied exit by the Nigeria Immigration Service, citing “orders from above”.
The passenger, a lady, who gave her name as Aishatu Damulak, was an intending medical tourist bound for India to seek treatment for her ailing mother and mentally ill six-year-old son, Ahmed Kyari.
At first everything looked calm. But trouble started for Aishatu when she approached the immigration officials and they told her she could travel with her aged mother if she wanted but her son would not be allowed to leave the country.
The woman, whose father was a former Controller-General of Immigrations, Mohammed Damulak, sought explanation for the order and was told that the NIS had been directed to seize the child from her and return it to the father, who was somewhere around the airport premises.
That was when hell broke loose. The woman forced her way into the Airport Controllers office and introduced herself as the daughter of a former CG but that did not move the Airport Controller, Mr Modu Musa to rescind the order.
As the two were exchanging hot words, her former husband and father of six-year-old Ahmed entered the Controller’s office. The atmosphere became charged as by now all sides were talking at the top of their voices. Ahmed Kyari, meanwhile had scampered beneath a table to hide from his father, who he had only seen once in his life when “he broke into our house brandishing a gun and threatening to kill the mother and child”, as narrated by the mother in their screaming bout.
The appearance of Mohammed Abba Kyari in the office moved the office one more notch to look like the 1991 American drama film “Not Without My Daughter”, depicting the escape of US citizen Betty Mahmoody and her daughter from her abusive husband in Iran.