A Nigerian woman who is believed to be mentally ill has been arrested by the secret service in Washington DC after she tried to force her way into the White House to see the most powerful man in the world.
Joy Utokanandu tried to get into the White House complex by following an official vehicle through an external checkpoint, the Secret Service says.
She had just moved from North Texas to Washington D.C., but her ex-husband says she did not go there intending to harm the president. He says it is the result of a mental illness.
The Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit of the D.C. Police Department and the Secret Service responded to the suspicious vehicle around 6 a.m. Thursday, after the driver tried to illegally gain entry to the White House complex.
The vehicle, later identified as Mercedes with Texas plates, was stopped and the individual was taken into custody by Secret Service, they confirmed. “This is 100% mental illness, she has no political affiliation, no strong views about anybody. It’s a woman needs help, who is sick,” Jeffery Akharoh said.
Akharoh has two kids with Utokanandu. They moved from Nigeria together, and she became a nurse practitioner. They divorced in 2010, but she remained in the area until her move a few months back. Akharoh said he is not surprised by the news out of D.C., because a few weeks back Secret Service showed up at his house asking for information about his ex-wife. She had been living in her car just blocks from the White House.
“It’s tough. It will be tough on any family. No father wants to see their children or their ex or their children’s mother go through this,” Akharoh said.
The Secret Service closed the surrounding roads Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and 17th Street Northwest due to the security alert.
The roads were also closed to pedestrian traffic, police said.