NIS holds on to passport…….
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has deepened the investigation of a former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, over alleged fraud to the tune of N100bn when he was serving as governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
Odili, who is the husband of the second most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Odili, had at the tail end of his administration in 2007 obtained a perpetual injunction barring the Federal Government and its agencies from probing, arresting or prosecuting him.
To ensure that the former governor did not evade justice the anti graft Agency through a court injunction ordered the Nigeria Immigration Service to hold his passport and other traveling documents pending the outcome of the case.
In 2020, he approached a Federal High Court again to get another injunction to stop an impending probe. In September, the former governor sued NIS for seizing his passport at the airport.
In its response, however, the NIS said it was the EFCC that asked it to seize the passport as part of a probe.
But Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the service to release the passport to Odili immediately, stating that until the perpetual injunction had been vacated, withholding Odili’s passport would amount to a breach of his fundamental human rights.
Last week, however, the NIS informed the court that it would be appealing the ruling and hence could not return Odili’s passport just yet.
In the motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 32 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court’s Civil Procedure, the service stated that it is seeking an order staying the execution of the judgment of the court pending the hearing and determination of its appeal.
The NIS based its appeal on three grounds, one of which was that should Odili’s passport be returned to him, it could undermine the appeal.
“The execution of the judgment would foist upon the Court of Appeal a fait accompli and render the appeal nugatory in the event that the appeal succeeds,” it argued.
Justice Ekwo subsequently directed that Odilli’s passport be handed over to the court and adjourned the matter till December 13, 2021.
Although the NIS claims that it is holding Odili’s passport based on a request by the EFCC, the anti-graft agency has refused to say anything on the matter.
The EFCC had last year commenced a probe into how Odili allegedly diverted and misappropriate public funds to the tune of N100bn.
EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, declined comment on the matter with an excuse that the case is in court.