Anthonia Nwaorie was one flight away from achieving a long time dream of building a clinic in Nigeria but her plan was cut short by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A US-based citizen, Anthonia was on her way to Nigeria with her $41,377 savings in her bag and some medical supplies, which she planned to use to treat people that need it.
But as she was about to board the flight to Nigeria, she was stopped by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, asking her how many people she was carrying money for, how many people she was traveling with and how long she had been in the US.
Shocked by the questions, Anthonia, who had been in the US since 1982, explained that she was alone and had earned her money legally, but her money was seized.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Anthonia was supposed to declare that she was leaving the country with more than $10,000—a requirement Anthonia said she was never aware of.
Months later, Anthonia said her money was yet to be returned unless she signs a “hold harmless” agreement, promising she will not sue CBP over the incident and will compensate the government for costs it has incurred while enforcing the agreement.
If she refuses to sign, Anthonia said the agency said it would claim that she abandoned her money.
But Anthonia has refused to sign the agreement because that would mean she was signing away her right. So, she has sued the government and would wait for the court’s judgement on it.
“The government took my money for no good reason and kept me from building a medical clinic that can provide healthcare to vulnerable women and children. Now they’re demanding that I sign away my rights to get back what has rightly belonged to me all along. I am an American, and I will not surrender my rights,” she said in a statement shared by the IJ.