Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to release the international passport of former Rivers State governor, Dr Peter Odili.
The former governor had dragged the immigration service before the court alleging that his international passport was unlawfully seized from him in June this year.
In his judgement, the court held that the action of immigration was not only unlawful but illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires. Justice Ekwo, in the judgement in a suit filed by Odili to challenge the seizure of the passport, upheld the submission of his counsel, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) that the immigration and its comptroller general lacked the constitutional powers to do what they did.
The reason adduced by immigration that Odili’s passport was impounded because he was on the watch list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to justify the passport seizure was rejected by the court on the ground that such use of power is not known to any law in the country.
Justice Ekwo noted the Federal High Court judgement of March 5, 2008 in which an order of perpetual injunction was granted against EFCC, prohibiting the anti-graft agency from investigating Odili on the activities of Rivers State government between 1999 and 2007 when he held sway as the executive governor.
The judge held that until the order is voided and set aside by a competent court of records, the order remains binding on EFCC, its operatives and agents. With the existing valid order of 2008, the judge said that the immigration lacked validity on what it did and that its action is contemptuous and should not be allowed to stand.