Abuja: Nigeria`s aviation authorities on Friday said the passenger arrested from a New York-bound flight and detained in Puerto Rico for being on US` `no-fly list`, was a Gambian and not a Nigerian national and described it as a case of "mistaken identity".
Harold Demuren, the head of Nigeria`s Civil Aviation Authority, said that reports in the media were false.
"The truth is that the man did not join the flight out of Abuja, Nigeria`s capital city. He joined the flight in Dakar, Senegal and I am able to gather that he is a Gambian,” he said.
On asked how he found out the traveller’s identity, Demuren said he got in touch with Delta Airlines officials and learnt that the man was Salieu Badjan from Gambia.
Yesterday, the US authorities detained a passenger said to be on the country`s "no fly" list on an Abuja-to-New York flight during a fuel stop in Puerto Rico.
The apparent breach was reported by the Delta Airlines pilot when he stopped to refuel in Puerto Rico. He said he got the information while over the Atlantic.
The Flight 215 was reported to have taken-off from Abuja and the man was initially though to be Nigerian.
Nonetheless, the flight continued to New York after the man was removed while US Custom officials said they were interrogating him in custody. There was no incidence on the plane and passengers did not face any apparent danger.
Last December, a Nigerian on "no fly" list, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit from Amsterdam.
His father had approached the US embassy in Nigeria to complain about what he considered to be suspicious behaviour of his son but this did not prevent the boy from getting an entry visa to America.
Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden later endorsed Abdulmutallab`s action as part of a jihad against the US.
Abdulmutallab later revealed to the investigation police that he was acting of behalf of al Qaeda and had received the explosives in Yemen.
He has been arraigned in US court for trial and on second date he did not make an appearance since it was not compulsory for him to do so but the trial has been put for April.