A Nigerian woman is suing the United States customs agency after it seized tens of thousands of dollars which was earmarked to build a free medical clinic in Imo state.
According to the Washington Post, Anthonia Nwaorie was carrying $41,000 (£30,000) in her hand luggage as she boarded a flight in Houston, Texas, in October. But before she reached the plane, she was stopped by US Customs and Border Protection.
Ms Nwaorie, a 59-year-old nurse who became a US citizen in 1994, initially thought they had concerns over her citizenship, but then heard them talking about smuggling. Eventually, it emerged she had failed to fill in the proper paperwork declaring the money which she was allowed to take out of the country.
But despite the authorities which decided not to pursue a case being obliged to return the money, they said they would only do so if she signed a “hold-harmless agreement”, taking away her right to sue the federal government.
As a result, she is still waiting for her money to be returned, and has decided to take legal action to force them to return the cash. In the meantime, all hopes of setting up a permanent, free clinic to help her community back in Imo state have been put on hold.
She told the Post: “This was my dream, that people cannot be sent away from a clinic or a hospital because they do not have money. This is something that I want to do for humanity, myself and my God, so there is nothing I would want to do to go against the law of this land to get it done. If I had known I had to declare the money before traveling, I would have done that.”
The report said US Customs and Border Protection refused to comment on the case as it was on-going.