The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) release the seized passport of Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, gave the order on Monday while adjudicating in a suit filed by Odili to challenge the action of the NIS.
According to the former governor, his passport, with number B50031305, was seized from him on June 20 by NIS officials for an undisclosed reason, shortly after he landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
He stated that he was assured that his passport would be released to him the following day, but lamented that the document has since remained in the hands of the NIS.
“However, while waiting for my luggage, an official of the immigration service came over to me and demanded for my international passport aforesaid.
“I demanded to know why he wanted it, and he stated that it was for a routine check, and that same will be given back to me the following day.
“No official explanation, other than the above conversation, was given to me. I gave him the passport, and up till now, same has not been returned to me.
“The seizure of my passport by the respondents has denied me movements in and out of Nigeria, thereby restricting my movement in violation of my constitutional right to freedom of movement.
“I know as a fact that I am a very senior citizen of Nigeria, law-abiding and I have done nothing to have warranted the seizure of my passport by the respondents,” Odili stated in his affidavits in support of the suit.
He urged the court to compel the two respondents to release the passport.
He also prayed for a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further harassing, embarrassing, intimidating or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement, as well as a written apology.
The NIS had, however, explained to the court that it seized the passport following a request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
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