Court orders NIS to pay ex-Rivers governor N2 million fine

Court orders NIS to pay ex-Rivers governor N2 million fine

According to the Federal High Court in Abuja, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has been fined N2 million for its lawyers’ failure to appear at the post-judgment proceedings initiated by Peter Odili, a former Rivers State governor, to enforce the court’s order for the release of his seized passport.

Mr Odili’s passport was confiscated by personnel of the Nigerian Intelligence Service (NIS) at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja on June 20, 2021, upon his return from a trip to the United Kingdom.

Mr Odili, who was dissatisfied with the seizure and claimed that the reason for the seizure was not given to him, filed a lawsuit against the NIS and its Comptroller-General in an attempt to have his passport returned to him.

The NIS, on the other hand, was ordered to promptly release Mr Odili’s passport in a judgment issued last October by the same court, Inyang Ekwo.

UPDATED: A court has ordered the release of former Rivers governor Odili’s passport by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Mr Ekwo had branded the NIS’s actions as “illegal and unconstitutional,” and he went on to say that “no citizen of this nation should be treated in this manner, regardless of social or economic standing.”

Despite the ongoing court orders, the NIS has maintained its refusal to release Mr Odili’s passport.

Mr Odili was forced to return to court as a result of this development, where he expressed his dissatisfaction with the service’s repeated disobedience of court orders.

Mr Odili’s attorney, Adedayo Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the court during Tuesday’s hearings that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) “chose to disregard the directives of the court with lightness, disrespect, and disdain.”

In the opinion of the senior lawyer, it was disappointing that the respondents had exhibited such complete disregard for the court procedure.

“Until lawyers are held accountable, we will not be able to make progress in this country,” Mr Adedipe said, referring to the behaviour of the NIS’ lawyer in the course of the lawsuit.

The court had previously ordered the NIS to appear in court through its lawyer, Jimoh Adamu, but the order had been disobeyed at the last hearing.

Regarding the respondents’ (the National Institute of Standards and Technology and its Comptroller-General) repeated failure to provide service, the court found that they had been given “fair and enough chance to comply with the orders of this court.”

The judge reminded the parties that “the respondents have failed to comply with the directions of this court to release the international passport of the applicant (Mr Odili) as ordered by this court,” according to the judge.

Therefore, I issue an order ordering the respondents to reimburse the applicant (Mr Odili) the sum of N2 million that they incurred in forcing the applicant (Mr Odili) to appear in court when it was obvious that they would not be there.

A judge orders disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Besides that, Mr. Ekwo asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), who is also a respondent in the complaint, to “take disciplinary action against Jimoh Adamu, who represents the respondent in this case, for his unprofessional behavior in the management of this case.”

Following then, the case was postponed until January 21, 2022, to allow the NIS to demonstrate good cause as to why further orders should not be issued against them.

His passport was taken away from him at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja, according to the former Rivers State governor in his fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Nigerian Immigration Service and its comptroller-general. The reasons for the seizure of his passport were not disclosed.

He stated that NIS operatives confiscated his passport, which had the number B50031305, when he returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where he had gone for medical treatment.

The official stated that as he was waiting for his luggage to arrive, an official from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIS) demanded his passport for a routine check.

In the words of the former governor, he handed over the passport to a government employee, who never returned it.

In his defense, he claimed to be an upstanding and elderly Nigerian citizen with no criminal background that would justify the seizure of his passport.

Specifically, he requested that the court order the two respondents to release the passport to him and issue an order of perpetual injunction against the respondents “to prevent them from further harassing, embarrassing, intimidating, or interfering with his fundamental right to freedom of movement in the future.”

However, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) claimed in its defense that the former governor’s passport was taken in response to a request from the EFCC.

When Mr Odili concluded his second and final term as governor in 2007, the anti-graft agency attempted to prosecute him for corruption. However, the attempt was thwarted by a judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Bawa, who granted an order of perpetual injunction sheltering him from the trial.

The National Investigation Service (NIS), through its counsel, Jimoh Adamu, presented an EFCC letter demanding that the passport be seized on the grounds that the former governor was on a watch list.

 

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