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Peter Odili

Court orders Immigration to return ex-gov Odili’s seized passport

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and its Comptroller-General to return the international passport seized from a former Rivers Governor, Peter Odili to him.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order on Monday in a judgment on a fundamental rights enforcement suit by Odili.

Justice Ekwo declared the seizure of Odili’s passport as unconstitutional.

The NIS had, while justifying its action, claimed to have seized the passport upon a request to that effect by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the grounds that Odili was on its watch list.

Odili, who piloted affairs of Rivers State from 1999 to 2007, had approached the court to challenge the seizure of his international passport by the NIS.

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

He said the NIS had since refused to release the passport to him.

In an 8-paragraphed affidavit he personally deposed to, the former governor, said he landed at the airport from the United Kingdom where he had gone for his routine medical checkup.

He averred that upon his arrival, his traveling documents were checked and given back to him, but while he waited for his luggage to be cleared, an Immigration official approached him and demanded the passport on a claim of routing check.

Odili told the court that he complied and handed his documents over to the official who went away with and failed to return it back.

Stressing that he is a law-abiding senior citizen of Nigeria that did not do anything to warrant the seizure of his passport, Odili, prayed the court to intervene in the matter.

He prayed the court to compel the two Respondents in the matter to release the passport to him, as well as to issue an order of perpetual injunction stopping them from further harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement.

He equally prayed the court to compel the Respondents to tender a written apology to him for the embarrassment caused him by the Immigration.

Cited as Respondents in the matter were the NIS and its Comptroller General.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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