Facebook group, created to condemn the alleged attempt to blow up a US passenger plane by a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has attracted more than 121,815 members.
“Get us off that list: Nigerians are NOT Terrorists” is the tagline for the Facebook group. The group was created by Henry Omoregie, who according to AFP, described himself as an oil and gas recruitment consultant and freelance online journalist in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
According to a statement, the group was initially formed to condemn the behaviour of a certain Abdulmutallab whose actions dragged Nigeria's already sodden image deeper into the mud, and has earned her the worst tag in history: inclusion in a 'watch list' of terrorism-prone countries or countries of interest by the US.
The US released a list of 14 countries including, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Cuba , Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan with directives that passengers traveling from these countries to the USA by air face extra security screening. This screening includes body-pat and carry-on baggage checks.
"Nigerians are good people, we are not terrorists, we love life!" the page says. Meanwhile, the group has explained that “Nigeria has contributed the 4th largest contingent to UN peacekeeping missions for over 5 decades now. We have produced world-class citizens including the father of the Internet, Philip Emeagwali, World Bank chiefs, Okonjo-Iweala and Oby Ezekwesili, Commonwealth secretary-general, Emeka Anyaoku, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wole Soyinka amongst others”.
"We hosted the USA and the Netherlands in the just concluded FIFA U-17 world Cup in Kano, the territory where Farouk hails from, and nothing happened to them. Countries which have 300 percent more of their citizens involved in terror attacks against the USA since 9/11 were never listed. Why list Nigeria?” the group asked.
Abdulmutallab, the son of a prominent Nigerian banker, has been accused by US authorities of trying to bring down a US-bound airliner on Christmas day by setting off a high explosive called PETN sewn into his underwear.
"I started this page because it has been years of global disgust at Nigeria and Nigerians for acts done by a micro unit of actually peace-loving people," Omoregie said in an email to AFP.
"We Nigerians cannot fold our arms and watch while the acts of just one over-bloated son of a big-gun smears the already sodden image of our great nation and put the travel comfort of over 150 million in jeopardy.With the fuming retorts on the group page, any right-thinking non-Nigerian will see the real emotions and hatred of this dastardly act by well-meaning and good people of a great nation," he added.
Thousands of comments have been posted on the wall of the Face book page, with most expressing outrage at the attempt to blow up the plane, which was carrying about 300 passengers and crew on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.