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Judge orders NIS to deposit Odili’s seized passport with court

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A Federal High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has ordered the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to deposit the seized international passport of former Governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili to the Deputy Chief Registrar Litigation of the court within 19 days.

The order was given on Tuesday by Justice Inyang Ekwo after the service approached the court to stay an order directing it to release the said passport to the erstwhile governor.

The court had ordered the NIS to release the said passport to Odili, but rather than comply with the order, the NIS returned to the court with a motion seeking to stay the execution of the judgment.

The release order was issued on October 18 following the findings by the court that Odili’s passport was unlawfully seized from him in July this year.

However, the NIS through its counsel, Ibrahim Etsu, informed the court of its intention to challenge the judgment of the high court at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Displeased by the contemptuous action of NIS, Justice Ekwo issued a fresh order directing the agency to bring the contentious passport before the court and deposit it with the Deputy Chief Registrar, Litigation of the court.

Read also: LongRead: From Magu to Odili, how Nigeria’s Justice Minister, Malami, is getting his fingers burnt

The Judge held that the application for stay of the October 18 judgment would not be entertained by his court since the Immigration Service was already in contempt of the court with the refusal to release the passport as directed.

Justice Ekwo then gave the Immigration up till December 12 to deposit the passport with the court registrar to qualify to be heard on the motion for stay.

Meanwhile, the judge had in his judgment of October 18 held that the action of Immigration in seizing the passport was not only unlawful but illegal and unconstitutional.

He ordered that the passport with numbers B5003305 be immediately returned to the former governor and that the NIS should tender an apology to Odili in writing for the embarrassment caused him with the seizure of his passport.

Justice Ekwo had thereafter granted an order of perpetual injunction against Immigration restraining it and its agents from harassing, intimidating or infringing on the fundamental rights of Odili to freedom of movement inside or outside Nigeria.

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