By Ogundele Olanrewaju
Erstwhile Governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili has been placed on the watchlist of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraud.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) disclosed this in a counter-affidavit it filed before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
The service was responding to the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed against it by the former governor.
In the suit, Odili, a medical doctor, two term governor of Rivers State between 1999 and 2007 is challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, by personnel of the service.
He is also the husband of Justice Mary Odili of the Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
In the suit brought against Nigeria Immigration Service and it’s Comptroller General, he claimed that his international passport with numbers B50031305 was seized from him on June 20, 2021 by operatives of the Immigration Service and has since been with held.
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 Immigration demanded for the passport on claim of routing check which he complied with but that the document has since been with held.
He claimed to be a senior citizen of Nigeria, law abiding and had not done anything to warrant the seizure of the passport from him.
Odili prayed Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed to compel the two respondents to release the passport to him and order of perpetual injunction against the respondents from further harassing, 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.
However in a counter affidavit by the Immigration Service, It was revealed that Odili passport was seized because he is on the watch list 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 Adamu told Justice Mohammed that he had just filed 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 lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe did not oppose the request for the short adjournment
Justice Mohammed subsequently fixed September 28 to hear the matter.