The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to immediately release the international passport of the former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili.
The court, in a judgement delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Monday held that there was no legal justification for the action the NIS took against the former governor, declaring the seizure as illegal, unconstitutional and an infringement of his fundamental rights.
Justice Ekwo further ordered the service, to tender an apology to the former governor, and restrained the NIS from harassing and intimidating him from leaving the country or moving freely within the country.
He added that the seizure of the former governor’s passport, was a punitive act and no citizen should be treated in such a manner, irrespective of status.
Odili had filed a suit against the immigration service challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on 20 June 2021, upon his arrival into the country.
The former governor, said he landed at the airport from the United Kingdom where he had gone for his routine medical checkup and 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 for the passport on 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.
The NIS, however, told the court that its action was based on a directive from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which it said had placed the former governor on its watchlist.