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EFCC Ordered Us To Seized Ex-Gov Peter Odili’s Passport  – Immigration Tells Court

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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) argued in court on Friday that its operatives took the international passport of a former Rivers State Governor, Sir Peter Odili, on the direction of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The agency pleaded with the top court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the former governor to force the release of his passport.

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While defending his clients’ activities, Immigration Counsel Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu presented an EFCC letter instructing Immigration to seize Odili’s passport because he was on a watchlist for several offences.

Adamu further requested that the case be dismissed since the name on the seized foreign passport did not match the identity of Peter Odili, the plaintiff in the case.

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Odili’s passport was taken by Immigration Service operatives following his return from a vacation to the United Kingdom on June 20, 2021, and has since been withheld.

Odili’s action challenging the Nigeria Immigration Service’s seizure of his international passport has been set for decision on October 18 by Justice Inyang Ekwo.

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Following arguments from Chief Ifedayo Adedipe SAN, who represented the former governor, and Mr Jimoh Adamu, who represented the NIS and its comptroller-general, Ekwo set the date.

During the adoption of his processes, Adedipe asked the court to order the respondents to return his client’s international passport, which had been wrongfully confiscated.

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The senior counsel argued that immigration had violated Odili’s right to his property because no court order had been issued prior to the passport seizure.

He asked the court to dismiss the respondents’ assertion that Odili was on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s watch list, claiming that his client had never been interrogated or had any criminal charges brought against him.

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“The applicant is a senior Nigerian citizen who is 73 years old, a former deputy governor, a two-time Governor of Rivers, an outstanding medical doctor, and a recipient of national accolades,” he stated.

“The EFCC cannot order immigration to seize a passport in the absence of a court order.”

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Adedipe also requested the court to dismiss an EFCC letter used by immigration to justify the seizure of the passport, claiming that the fictitious letter could not replace a court order.

Odili had taken the Nigeria Immigration Service and its Comptroller General to the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the seizure of his passport at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport for unexplained grounds.

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He alleged in the fundamental rights enforcement complaint that the international passport with the numbers B50031305 was confiscated from him by Immigration Service operatives on June 20, 2021, and has since been withheld.

The former governor stated in an eight-paragraph declaration that the passport was taken from him upon his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where he had gone for medicals.

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Odili said that his travel paperwork were reviewed and returned to him upon his arrival, and that while waiting for his luggage, an Immigration official wanted his passport under the guise of a normal check, which he cooperated with, but that the document has since been withheld.

He claimed to be a law-abiding elderly citizen of Nigeria who had done nothing to deserve the seizure of his passport.

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Odili asked the court to order the two defendants to release his passport and to issue a perpetual injunction prohibiting them from harassing, embarrassing, intimidating, or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement in the future.

The former governor also requested a written apology for the embarrassment that the Immigration Department had caused him.

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Odili’s passport was taken because he was on the EFCC’s surveillance list, according to a counter-affidavit filed by the Immigration Service.

Odili was placed on a watchlist at the request of the EFCC, according to an affidavit signed by Okwe Ernest of the Immigration Service’s Legal Department.

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The Immigration Service said that the former governor was not entitled to the request made in court and that his lawsuit should be dismissed since it was filed too soon.

The immigration action, according to the deponent, was the result of collaboration between all Federal Government security agencies, and the respondents were only carrying out their statutory obligations.

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Odili has never demanded the passport’s release or inquired as to why it has been seized, according to the affidavit.

On October 18, Justice Ekwo declared that he would rule on the case.

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