Dorothy Ejindu, a U.S. citizen, had just arrived at Bush Intercontinental Airport from her native country Nigeria via a layover in Paris when she was detained by customs. Not allowed to go to the restroom, the elderly traveler was forced to urinate on herself while waiting in a secluded room.
The incident happened last week, after Ejindu returned from a heart-wrenching trip, a local news station reports. She had visited Nigeria to lay her only son, Obiora, to rest. So far, the 86-year-old has already buried three of her seven children, and a trip that had already brought her quite a deal of pain and grief was worsened by the treatment she received by customs officials.
“I’ve been traveling a lot all of these years, all of these years,” Ejindu said. “Never had anything like this happen.”
After landing, Ejindu and a number of others were directed to enter a secluded room inside the airport where phone calls were prohibited. Passengers were asked to surrender their belongings and passports, and no matter how many times Ejindu asked, officials would not let her use the restroom.
Eventually, the grieving mother had to use the bathroom on herself while sitting in a wheelchair, as she was repeatedly denied access to a restroom.
“That is not right,” said Uche Baker, Ejindu's daughter. “And that is what is killing me, she didn't have to go through that.”
Reporters who attempted to obtain any comments from customs officials have run into a wall. Nevertheless, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says that all travelers arriving in the country may be subject to searches.
In a statement, the agency said that “travelers may [at times] be inconvenienced as we work through the arrival process to ensure those entering the country are doing so legitimately and lawfully.”
“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to another person, period,” Ejindu told reporters.
And yet, officials say that restroom access would have never been restricted.
Regardless of what officials are stating, this saddened mother was never allowed to relieve herself despite having asked customs officials repeatedly. If they do this to elderly women in wheelchairs, one can only wonder what they often do to women arriving in hijabs.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz