Nigeria: Immigration - We Seized Odili's Passport for Being On EFCC's Watch List

A Nigerian passport.
16 September 2021

Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has revealed that the reason it seized the passport of a former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili was because he was on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

But Odili has dragged the service and its Comptroller General before a Federal High Court in Abuja, over the seizure of his international passport, which took place at the Nnamd Azikwe International airport in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.

The service, which made the disclosure in a counter affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest from its Legal Department, averred that Odili was watch listed at the request of the EFCC.

The Immigration Service claimed that the former governor was not entitled to the request presented before the court and that his suit should be dismissed as 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 stated that since the passport was seized, Odili has never for once demanded for its release or cared to know why it was seized.

However, Odili, in the fundamental rights enforcement suit, 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 eight paragraph affidavit 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 traveling documents were checked and given back to him and that while waiting for his luggage an official of Immigration demanded for the passport on claim of routine check, which he complied with but that the document has since been withheld.

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 Justice Ahmed Mohammed to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and also issue 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.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, counsel to Immigration Service, Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu, informed Justice Mohammed that he had just filed counter affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor and served same on him as required by law.

Adamu, the Legal Adviser to the two respondents, therefore, sought a brief adjournment to enable him put his house in order.

Odili's lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, did not oppose the request for the short adjournment

Justice Mohammed subsequently fixed September 28 to hear the matter.

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