By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
Former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili, has been placed on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) , the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has told a court in Abuja.
Odili, a medical doctor, deputy governor between 1992 and 1993 and two-term governor of Rivers State between 1999 and 2007 is husband to Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court.
The former governor dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service and its Comptroller-General before a federal high court in Abuja challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja for undisclosed reasons.
In the fundamental human rights enforcement suit, he claimed that the international passport with number B50031305 was seized from him on June 20, 2021 by operatives of the Immigration Service and has since been withheld.
In an 8-paragraph affidavit he personally deposed to, the former governor claimed that the passport was seized from him upon his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom where he had gone for his medicals.
Odili averred that on his arrival, his traveling documents were checked and given back to him and that while waiting for his luggage, an official of the Immigration Service demanded for the passport for a routine check, which he complied with, but that the document has since been withheld.
He claimed to be a senior citizen of Nigeria, law-abiding and had not done anything to warrant the seizure of his passport.
Odili prayed Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and issue an order of perpetual injunction against the respondents from further harrassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement.
The former governor also demanded a written apology for the embarrassment caused him by the Immigration.
In a counter-affidavit, however, the Immigration Service revealed that Odili’s passport was seized because he is on the watchlist of the EFCC.
The affidavit deposed to by one Okwe Ernest of the Legal Department of the Immigration Service averred that Odili was watch listed at the request of the EFCC.
The Immigration Service claimed that the former governor was not entitled to the request presented before the court and that his suit should be dismissed for being premature.
Deponent asserted that the action of Immigration was as a result of collaborations of all the federal government security agencies and that the respondents were only carrying out their statutory functions.
The affidavit said that since the passport was seized, Odili has never for once demanded for its release or cared to know why it was seized.
When the matter came up on Wednesday, Counsel to Immigration Service, Mr Jimoh Abdulkadir Adamu, informed Justice Mohammed that he had just filed the counter-affidavit to oppose the suit of the former governor and served same on him as required by law.
Adamu, the Legal Adviser to the two respondents, sought a brief adjournment to enable him put his house in order.
Odili’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, did not oppose the request for the short adjournment
Justice Mohammed subsequently fixed September 28 to hear the matter.