Politics

NIS seizes ex-Rivers gov intl passport, says he’s on EFCC watchlist

Former Rivers  Governor, Peter Odili has been placed on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) says the Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS).

The NIS revealed this on Wednesday in response to a suit filed by Odili challenging the seizure of his international passport by the service.

When the matter was called on Wednesday, counsel to the service, Mr Jimoh Adamu informed the court that he had just filed a counter-affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor.

Adamu sought a brief adjournment to enable him to put his house in order. Odili’s counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe did not oppose the request for a short adjournment.

Justice Mohammed then adjourned the matter until  September 28 for a hearing.

The former governor had dragged the NIS and its Comptroller-General to the Federal High Court challenging the seizure of his 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 number B50031305 was seized from him on June 20 by operatives of the service.

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Odili prayed the court to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him.He also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction against the service 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 service.

In a counter-affidavit,  the service justified the seizure of Odili’s passport and faulted his claims in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/965/2021.

“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).

“It is the government’s policy that streamlines the security agencies present at the point of entry/exit from the country.“The respondents (NIS and its Comptroller-General) are the lead agency for the above-stated function.

“All security agencies collaborate by submitting a list of any person on the watch list to the respondents“By virtue of Section 31 of the Immigration Act 2015, the respondents are empowered to prevent the departure from Nigeria where there is a request to arrest such a person in the public interest as requested in the instant case by the EFCC.

“By the above section of the Immigration Act, the respondents are empowered to seize the applicant’s international passport because he was watchlisted sequel to EFCC requested,” it said.

The NIS argued that Odili’s suit was pre-mature as he allegedly failed to meet the condition precedent to the filing of such suits.

“This action is premature and incompetent as the applicant failed to serve pre-action notice on the service as a condition precedent before filing this suit against the respondents.“The failure to serve pre-action notice robs this honourable court of jurisdiction.

“The applicant is not entitled to the reliefs sought and the suit should be dismissed with substantial cost for failure to comply with a condition precedent,” the service said.

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