Immigration seeks court’s leave to file fresh evidence against former Rivers Gov, Peter Odili on passport seizure

The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) on Tuesday, requested the leave of a Federal High Court, Abuja to file fresh evidence against a former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili, on why his travelling passport was seized.

Odili’s passport was on June 20, 2021, seized from him by operatives of the Immigration Service upon his arrival from a trip to the United Kingdom (UK) and has since been withheld.

The agency later predicated its action on the ground that Odili was placed on a watch list by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) over alleged economic issues.

Odili has since dragged the NIS and its Comptroller General before the Federal High Court seeking an order compelling the service to release his passport to him.

When the matter came up on Tuesday, counsel to Immigration, Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu, informed the court that his clients are willing to file fresh evidence against the former governor.

Adamu specifically told Justice Inyang Ekwo that Immigration and the Comptroller General intend to file a better and further counter affidavit to justify the seizure of Odili’s international passport.

Odili’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), in his own arguments said he will file better and further affidavit in support of the originating summons filed for his client.

Justice Ekwo, in a brief ruling fixed Friday, October 8, 2021, for further hearing in the matter and ordered the two lawyers to file and exchange all their processes ahead of the date.

Immigration had also filed a counter-affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor and served the same on Odili as required by law.

Odili had dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service and its Comptroller General to court to challenge the seizure of his international passport at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.

In the fundamental rights enforcement suit, he claimed that the international passport with numbers B50031305 was seized from him on June 20, 2021, by operatives of the Immigration Service and has since been withheld.

In an 8 paragraph affidavit he personally deposed to, the former governor claimed that the passport was seized from him upon his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom where he had gone for his medicals.

Odili averred that on his arrival, his travelling documents were checked and given back to him and that while waiting for his luggage, an official of Immigration demanded the passport for routing check which he complied with but that the document has since been withheld by the service.

He claimed to be a senior citizen of Nigeria, law-abiding and had not done anything to warrant the seizure of the passport from him.

Odili prayed the court to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and also an order of perpetual injunction against the respondents from further harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement.

The former governor also demanded a written apology for the embarrassment caused him by the Immigration.

However, in a counter-affidavit by the Immigration Service, it was revealed that Odili passport was seized because he is on the watch list of the EFCC.

The affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest of the Legal Department of the Immigration Service averred that Odili was watchlisted at the request of the EFCC and also claimed that the former governor was not entitled to the request presented before the court and that his suit should be dismissed for being premature.

The deponent asserted that the action of Immigration was as a result of collaborations of all the federal government security agencies and that the respondents were only carrying out their statutory functions.

The affidavit said that since the passport was seized, Odili has never for once demanded its release or cared to know why it was seized.

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