We Are Still Watching You-NIS Tells Odili

Former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, has been told he is still on the watch list of both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS.
The NIS delivered the message in an Abuja High Court on Wednesday while responding to a question raised in a suit filed by the former governor, who is challenging the continuous seizure of his travel document.
Counsel to the NIS, Jimoh Adamu, who made the disclosure, told the court that the service had already filed a counter motion against the former governor’s suit, adding that the service is also seeking an adjournment to the case.
While not opposing the request for adjournment, counsel to the former governor, Ifedayo Adedipe, averred however, that the seizure of the international passport at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on June 20, is a breach of his client’s fundamental rights.
Ifedayo is thus asking the court for an Order of Perpetual Injunction barring both the EFCC and NIS “from further harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement”.
The former governor is also demanding for a written apology for the embarrassment the seizure caused him.
In the counter motion however, the NIS made to justify its action by faulting his claims. According to the service, the seizure became imperative as the former governor is on the watch list of the EFCC.
“The applicant’s passport was seized because he is on the service’s, NIS’ watch list as requested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC.
“It is the government’s policy that streamlines the security agencies present at the point of entry/exit from the country.
“All security agencies collaborate by submitting a list of any person on the watch list to the respondents.”
The NIS posited that the NIS is empowered stop any individual from leaving the country when there is a legitimate request for implementing the order. The same act, the service added, grants the right to impound international passport sequel to the imementation of the no-departure order.
“By virtue of Section 31 of the Immigration Act 2015, the respondents are empowered to prevent the departure from Nigeria where there is a request to arrest such a person in the public interest as requested in the instant case by the EFCC.
“By the above section of the Immigration Act, the respondents are empowered to seize the applicant’s international passport because he was watch-listed, sequel to the EFCC request,” it said.
It therefore described the former governor’s suit as premature as he has not met the conditions upon which he can approach the court for a return of the international passport.
.“This action is premature and incompetent as the applicant failed to serve pre-action notice on the service as condition precedent before filing this suit against the respondents.
“The failure to serve pre-action notice robs this honourable court of jurisdiction.
“The applicant is not entitled to the reliefs sought and the suit should be dismissed with substantial cost for failure to comply with condition precedent,” the service said.
Odili, who governed Rivers State between 1999 and 2007, is being accused by the country’s anti graft body of misappropriating public funds to the tune of N100 billion as Governor. In 2007 however, a federal high court in Port Harcourt, restrained the EFCC from taking any further step against him.

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