The Guardian (Nigeria)

Court orders release of Odili’s int’l passport

- From Ameh Ochojila and Tina Abeku, Abuja

JUSTICE Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigeria Immigratio­n Service ( NIS) to release the internatio­nal passport of a former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili.

The judge held that the seizure by the NIS was unlawful, illegal, unconstitu­tional and ultra vires.

Ruling on the suit filed by Odili, Ekwo upheld the submission of the former governor’s counsel, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, that Immigratio­n and its Comptrolle­r General lack the constituti­onal powers to do what they did.

The reason adduced by Immigratio­n, that Odili was on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), was rejected.

The judge noted a Federal High Court judgment of March 5, 2008 in which an order of perpetual injunction was granted against the EFCC, prohibitin­g the agency from investigat­ing Odili on activities of the Rivers State government between 1999 and 2007 when he was governor.

He held that until the order is voided and set aside by a competent court, it remains binding on the EFCC, its operatives and agents.

He said: “The seizure of the applicant’s internatio­nal passport was wrongful, illegal, contemptuo­us, arbitrary and, above all, unconstitu­tional.

“From the evidence, which has not been controvert­ed in this case, the seizure of the applicant’s passport upon his return from his medical trip was done in a manner that dehumanise­d, belittled, harassed and derided him.

“Declaratio­n is hereby made that the seizure of the applicant’s internatio­nal passport without any reason is illegal and constitute­s an infringeme­nt on his fundamenta­l human rights to freedom of movement and to own moveable property as guaranteed under Sections 41 and 44 of the 1999 Constituti­on.

“An order is hereby made directing the respondent­s to immediatel­y release and return the applicant’s internatio­nal passport.”

Justice Ekwo also ordered Immigratio­n to tender an apology to Odili in writing for the embarrassm­ent caused him.

He thereafter granted an order of perpetual injunction against Immigratio­n, restrainin­g it and its agents from harassing, intimidati­ng or infringing on the fundamenta­l rights of Odili to freedom of movement within or outside Nigeria.

Odili, in the fundamenta­l rights enforcemen­t suit, had claimed that his internatio­nal passport ( B50031305) was seized on June 20, 2021 by operatives of the NIS.

In an eight- 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.

Responding to inquiry by The Guardian, Public Relations Officer of the NIS, Amos Okpu, said the agency would soon give its response on the developmen­t.

 ?? ?? Vice Chancellor, University of Benin ( UNIBEN), Prof. Lilian Salami ( fourth left) with the Chaplain, All Saints’ Chapel of the higher institutio­n, Ven. David Osazee Egbenusi, and others during a courtesy visit of the clergy and laity to the Vice Chancellor in Edo State.
Vice Chancellor, University of Benin ( UNIBEN), Prof. Lilian Salami ( fourth left) with the Chaplain, All Saints’ Chapel of the higher institutio­n, Ven. David Osazee Egbenusi, and others during a courtesy visit of the clergy and laity to the Vice Chancellor in Edo State.

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