Nigeria Immigration Service Releases Former Rivers Governor, Odili’s Seized Passport Three Months After Court Order

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has finally released the passport of a former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili to him.

The passport was seized by the immigration service on the alleged order of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). It has, however, been released to him at his Abuja residence.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had on October 18 ordered the agency to immediately release the passport of the former governor.

Inyang Ekwo, the judge, in the judgment held that there was no legal justification for the action the NIS took against the former governor.

Odili had approached the court to challenge the seizure of his passport by the NIS.

He told the court that his passport with number B50031305 was seized from him on June 20, 2021 by NIS officials for an undisclosed reason, shortly after he landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Odili had prayed the court to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and he also sought a perpetual injunction restraining 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 from the immigration.

In its response to the suit, the NIS tried to justify the seizure of Odili’s passport, saying it was prompted by a request from the EFCC.

“The applicant’s passport was seized because he is on the service’s (NIS’) watch list as requested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC),” the service had told the court.

Still, the passport was not released to the former governor.

But the court in January 2022 gave the immigration service and its lawyer till February 7 to show cause why disciplinary actions should not be taken against them for failing to obey the order directing the release of Odili’s passport.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on Friday, January 21 said he would allow lawyer representing the NIS, Jimoh Adamu one more opportunity to explain why the court’s order that Odili’s passport should be released was not ignored and why he should not be penalised for that.

“On the last adjourned date, this court had made an order that the counsel for the respondents, Mr. J. A. Adamu should show cause today.

“Today, the matter was called and Mr. Adamu is not in court and no reason was given for his absence.

“I make an order adjourning this case to the 7th of February 2022 for Mr. Adamu to show cause. This adjournment is at the instance of the respondent,” the judge had said.

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