January 7, 2010 / 3:07 PM / 10 years ago

Nigeria says plane suspect was properly screened

ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day had been properly screened by airport authorities before boarding a flight in Lagos, the Attorney General said on Thursday.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service December 28, 2009. REUTERS/US Marshals Service/Handout

A U.S. grand jury on Wednesday indicted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on six counts related to the attack on a Detroit-bound airliner from Amsterdam carrying nearly 300 people.

Abdulmutallab had transferred to that flight from a KLM flight from Lagos.

Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa said airport security footage showed the 23-year-old removing his shoes and going through a metal detector at Nigeria’s busiest airport.

“The security agencies did all that was required under the law to ensure that Nigeria complied with international standards,” he told reporters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

The government has said Abdulmutallab spent less than 30 minutes in Nigeria during his journey, which began in Ghana.

He did not check in any baggage but was carrying a shoulder bag when he checked in for the KLM flight in Lagos, the head of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority said last week.

Aondoakaa invited U.S. authorities to view the footage and inspect security at the Lagos international airport.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said. “Nigeria is not a terrorist country.”

Nigeria has formally requested that Washington reconsider its decision to put it on its air security watch list, which also includes Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The government, which has launched a rebranding campaign to shed its reputation for corruption, said Abdulmutallab’s behavior should not be used to judge the country’s 140 million people.

“I am very hopeful that with the facts and what we are planning to put before the U.S. government that they will rescind their decision,” Aondoakaa said.

A federal minister on Wednesday said bilateral relations with the United States could be put at risk if Nigeria was kept on the watch list.

The United States is by far Nigeria’s largest trade partner, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the OPEC member’s exports, mainly crude oil, according to the IMF.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh; writing by Randy Fabi; editing by Andrew Roche

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