By Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja.
The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has applied for leave of the Federal High Court to file fresh evidence against a former Rivers State governor, Dr Peter Odili on why his travelling passport was seized.
NIS made the move in an application filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
Odili’s passport was on June 20, 2021 seized from him by operatives of the Immigration Service upon his arrival from a trip to the United Kingdom and has since been withheld.
NIS later predicated its action on the ground that Odili was placed on the watch list by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) over an alleged economic issues.
Odili has since dragged the NIS and its Comptroller General before the Federal High Court seeking order of the court to compel the release of the passport to him.
However when the matter came up on Tuesday, counsel to Immigration Mr Jimoh Abdulkair Adamu informed the court that his clients are willing to file fresh evidence against the ex-governor.
Adamu specifically told Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo that Immigration and the Comptroller General intend to file a better and further counter affidavit to justify the seizure of the passport.
Counsel to Dr Odili, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe SAN in his own arguments said he will file better and further affidavit in support of the originating summons filed for his client.
Justice Inyang Ekwo in a brief ruling fixed Friday October 8 for further hearing in the matter and ordered the two lawyers to file and exchange all their processes ahead of the date.
Immigration had also filed counter affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor and served same on Odili as required by law.
Odili, a medical doctor, deputy governor between 1992 and 1993 and two term substantive governor of Rivers State between 1999 and 2007 is the husband of Justice Mary Odili of the Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
He had dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service and it’s Comptroller General before the court to challenge the seizure of his password at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.
In the fundamental rights enforcement suit, he had 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 8 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.
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 routing 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 the court to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and 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.
However in a counter affidavit by the Immigration Service, It was revealed that Odili passport was seized because he is on the watch list of the EFCC.
The affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest of the Legal Department of the Immigration Service 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 for being 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 said that since the passport was seized, Odili has never for once demanded for its release or cared to know why it was seized.
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