Soccer mom spends night in cell over disputed bill

Fuambai Ahmadu outside court on Tuesday in Grand Cayman. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

A former UNICEF anthropologist visiting Grand Cayman to watch her son play in an international youth soccer tournament was arrested at the airport and spent the night in jail over a disputed $233 guesthouse bill.

Fuambai Ahmadu outside court on Tuesday in Grand Cayman. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
Fuambai Ahmadu outside court on Tuesday in Grand Cayman. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

Fuambai Ahmadu said she was stunned to be locked up over what she views as a civil dispute between her and the guesthouse owner.

After spending a week in Cayman watching her son play for DC United in the Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cup, she was arrested Saturday night after checking her bags and clearing security for her return trip.

“It has been so surreal for me. I didn’t expect that I would be spending the night in a prison cell,” Ms. Ahmadu said outside court Tuesday.

She said she had an agreement to stay at a guest apartment in West Bay, which she had seen advertised on the Internet, from Monday through Saturday.

She claims she was kicked out of the property on Wednesday because she had insisted on paying by credit card or paying cash at the end of her stay. The guesthouse owner had asked for full cash payment up front, she said.

She was charged with obtaining services by deception and appeared in Summary Court on Tuesday. The charges were dismissed after she paid the outstanding debt and handed over an envelope of cash through her lawyer to the prosecutor, who agreed to serve as an intermediary.

Ms. Ahmadu still disputes the payment, but says she paid up to allow her to get home to her son. She said the guesthouse owner breached the contract and caused her inconvenience by forcing her to leave after three days.

“Certainly I was disputing it. I think that was my prerogative. It is not something that I agree to even now,” she said.

“It was very over the top,” she said of her airport arrest and night in custody.

She said she could not understand how police would be involved in debt collection.

“Certainly the experience at the prison cell was fearful, I have to admit. It was nothing like I had expected,” she said.

Ms. Ahmadu, an expert on the subject of female genital mutilation who has worked for UNICEF and the British Medical Research Council, said she has traveled all over the world talking about controversial issues but never expected to be locked up on a soccer trip to Grand Cayman.

Police public relations officer Jacqueline Carpenter told the Compass Tuesday that Ms. Ahmadu had confirmed to police that she had not paid for her stay after officers intercepted her at the airport. “She was offered the option to pay at that time, and did not,” Ms. Carpenter said, adding that “per the legal ruling,” there had been sufficient grounds to arrest and charge Ms. Ahmadu.

“The status or position of a given person, and whether he or she may be a resident or visitor, is irrelevant as to whether circumstances such as these warrant an arrest,” Ms. Carpenter added.

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  1. If you live at the guest house, hotel or apartment and does not pay it is called stealing. If you order food at a restaurant and does not pay it is called stealing. If you rent a car and does not pay it is called stealing. Yes police become involved in such things on this islands, because we are very much up to date with what go on in the outside world..

  2. Twyla, breach of contract is also a form of stealing. If the contract says you pay upon departure and allows credit card payment through the broker, and the owner tries to change the terms it’s a matter of principle to stick to the contract. If you book a hotel they charge you when you leave for the proper services you received. If you arrive at a hotel and they all of a sudden insist on charging you a full week upon check-in when your contract specifies otherwise, then that’s breach of contract. Breach of contract is stealing from society’s ability to rely on the terms of contracts and the rule of law. Arresting a tourist in the airport over a minor contract dispute definitely steals from this country’s reputation as a first world country.

  3. 16 hours to respond to an armed home invasion and an extremely fast application of the law (which law?) over the $233. This makes me think that the strings were pulled in this case.
    I do not read Bible or go to church, but I do know about “Do not judge” thing.
    A disputed amount is a disputed amount and there is small court for that, not an arrest and a night in jail. I doubt there is a law in existence that allows such drastic measures for the disputed amount.
    a quote: “per the legal ruling,” there had been sufficient grounds to arrest .
    What legal rulings? Can someone be more specific.
    A quote: She claims she was kicked out of the property.
    For a landlord to properly and legally evict a tenant from a rental property, the landlord must follow many procedures to the letter of the law. Is there such a Law, or it is at the discretion of the property owner and his connections to those in power?