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Court orders Immigration to release ex-Rivers Gov, Peter Odili’s passport


WThe Federal High Court sitting Abuja Monday ordered the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to immediately release the international passport of former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili which was unlawfully seized from him in July this year.

Trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the action of the Service was not only unlawful but illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by Odili challenging the seizure of his passport, the court upheld the submission of his counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) that the Immigration Service and its Comptroller General lacked the constitutional powers to do what they did.

The reason adduced by the Service that Odili’s passport was impounded because he was on the watch-list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to justify the passport seizure was rejected by the court on the ground that such use of power is not known to any law in the country.

Justice Ekwo cited the Federal High Court judgment of March 5, 2008 in which an order of perpetual injunction was granted against EFCC, prohibiting the anti-graft agency from investigating Odili on the activities of Rivers State Government between 1999 and 2007 when he held sway as the executive governor.

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

With the existing valid order of 2008, the Judge said that the Service lacked validity on what it did and that its action is contemptuous and should not be allowed to stand.

“I found that 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 dehumanized, belittled, harassed and derided him.

“Declaration is hereby made that the seizure of the applicant’s International Passport without any reason is illegal and constitute 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.”

 

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