Nigeria

Passport seizure: Ex-Governor Peter Odili on EFCC watch list – NIS tells court

Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State

The Nigeria Immigration Service has told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that a governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, has been placed on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged economic issues.

Odili, a medical doctor, served as Rivers State deputy governor between 1992 and 1993, and later held office as substantive governor between 1999 and 2007.

The claim was contained in a counter-affidavit by the Immigration Service in opposition to a suit filed by Odili, wherein he is challenging the seizure of his international travelling documents by Immigration officials.

In the fundamental rights enforcement suit, Odili claimed that his international passport with numbers B50031305 was seized from him on June 20, 2021, by operatives of the Immigration Service and has since been withheld.

The affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest of the Legal Department of the Immigration Service averred that Odili was under watch at the request of the EFCC.

It was averred in the counter affidavit 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 also claimed 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 counter-affidavit stated further that since the passport was seized, Odili has never for once demanded for its release or cared to know the reason behind the seizure.

Odili, who is husband to Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, had sued the Nigeria Immigration Service and its Comptroller General, challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.

In an 8-paragraph affidavit, personally deposed to by Odili, he claimed that the passport was seized from him upon his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom where he had gone for his medicals.

He averred that on his arrival, his travelling documents were checked and given back to him and that while waiting for his luggage, an official of Immigration demanded for the passport on the claim of routine check which he complied with but that the document has since been withheld.

Odili stated he is a senior citizen of Nigeria, law-abiding and had not done anything to warrant the seizure of the passport from him.

By the suit, he is praying the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, 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.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, counsel to Immigration Service, Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu, informed Justice Mohammed that he had just filed a counter-affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor and served same on him as required by law.

Adamu, the legal adviser to the two respondents, sought a brief adjournment to enable him to put his house in order.

Odili’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), did not oppose the request for the short adjournment.

Justice Mohammed subsequently fixed September 28 to hear the matter.

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