The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), on Friday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the international passport of a former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, was confiscated by its operatives on the order of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Counsel to Immigration, Jimoh Adamu, while defending the action of his client tendered a letter by the EFCC, instructing the Service to seize the passport because Odili was on its watch list for some infractions.
The NIS, therefore, prayed, the court to dismiss Odili’s suit seeking an order of the court for the release of the passport to him.
Adamu also asked the court to dismiss the matter because the name on the seized international passport did not correspond with the name of Peter Odili that filed the suit.
Odili’s passport was on June 20, 2021, seized from him by operatives of the Immigration Service upon his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, from a trip to the United Kingdom and had since withheld it.
Odili had dragged the NIS and its Comptroller-General to court to challenge the seizure of his passport for undisclosed reasons.
Adopting his processes, counsel to Odili, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), prayed the court to order the respondents to return the international passport of his client on the grounds that it was unlawfully seized from him.
He submitted that the right of Odili to owe property was violated by the Service because there was no order of court before the passport was seized from him.
Adedipe prayed the court to discountenance the claim of the respondents that Odili was on the watch list of the EFCC, adding that up till now, his client had neither been interrogated nor criminal charge instituted against him for any offence.
“The applicant is a senior citizen of Nigeria and is 73 years old; a former deputy governor, a two-time governor of Rivers and an accomplished medical doctor as well as a holder of national honours.
“EFCC is not a body that can instruct immigration to seize passport in place of a court order,” Adedipe said.
The counsel further asked the court to reject a letter from the EFCC tendered by Immigration as exhibit to justify the seizure of the passport, adding that the purported letter can not take the place of an order of a law court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, however, reserved judgement till October 18.