Ex-Gov Odili On EFCC Watch List – Immigration Service Tells Court


BY SEGUN ADEBAYO – The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says former Governor of Rivers Stat, Dr Peter Odili, is currently on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s  watch list and can therefore not traveled out of the country at will.

This disclosure came as Odili dragged the NIS and its Comptroller-General before the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja on June 20, 2021 for undisclosed reasons.

In the fundamental human rights enforcement suit, the former governor claimed that his international passport with number B50031305 was seized in June 2021 by NIS operatives and has since not been returned to him.

An eight-paragraph affidavit he personally deposed to claimed that the passport was seized from him upon returning to Nigeria from the United Kingdom (UK) where he had gone for medical check up

According to Dr Odili, on arrival, his traveling documents were checked and given back to him and that while waiting for his luggage, an NIS official demanded for the passport for a routine check, which he complied with, but the Service has since withheld the said document.

Claiming the status of a senior citizen of Nigeria and law-abiding, Dr Odili maintained that he had done nothing wrong to warrant the seizure of his passport.

He therefore prayed that Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed should compel the two respondents to release his passport and issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining them from further “harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement.”

Additionally, Dr Odili demanded a written apology from both respondents for the embarrassment caused him by the NIS.

However, in its counter-affidavit, the NIS told the Court that  Dr Odili’s passport was impounded because he is currently among those on the anti-graft agency’s watchlist.

The affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest of the NIS’ Legal Department averred that the ex-governor was watch listed at EFCC’s request, adding that he was not entitled to the request presented before the Court.

Urging the Court to dismiss the suit for being premature, the deponent said NIS’ action was based on collaborations by all the Federal Government security agencies and the respondents were only carrying out their statutory duties.

The affidavit also indicated that since the passport was seized, Dr Odili has never demanded for its release or cared to know the reason for its seizure.

On Wednesday, September 15, 2021 when the matter came up for hear, Counsel to NIS, Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu, told the Court that he had just filed the counter-affidavit opposing the ex-governor’s suit and also served same on him as required by law.

Adamu, who is the Legal Adviser to both respondents, sought a brief adjournment to enable him put his house in order.

On his part, Odili’s counsel, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, did not oppose the request for the short adjournment of the case.

Following submission from both sides, Justice Mohammed thereafter fixed September 28, 2021 to hear the matter.

Dr Odili, who is a medical doctor, is married to Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court. He was a two-term Governor of Rivers State between 1999 and 2007. Before then, he had served briefly as the State Deputy Governor between 1992 and 1993.

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