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 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.