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NIS Returns Odili’s Passport As Court Vacates Orders Against Lawyer

A Federal High Court, Abuja, last Monday, vacated the order made against the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) lawyer, Jimoh Adamu, over his alleged refusal to appear before it.

Justice Inyang Ekwo also vacated the December 21, 2021 order directing the NIS to pay N2million fine for alleged failure to release the international passport of former Governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, days after the prayer was granted.

The development followed Odili’s confirmation in the courtroom that the NIS had complied with the order on December 20, 2021.

Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), who appeared for the former governor, told the court shortly after Adamu cleared the air on the controversy.

Justice Ekwo had, on December 21, 2021, summoned Adamu over his failure to appear before the court on two occasions and the refusal of his office to release the travel documents of former Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili after a court order.

The judge, who ordered the NIS to pay a N2million fine for its conduct, directed the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to take disciplinary action against lawyer to NIS for alleged unprofessional conduct.

The court also struck out the motion for stay of execution filed by the NIS against its order and ordered Adamu to appear before it on January 21 to show cause why a disciplinary action should not be taken against him.

But on that day, Adamu was again not in court.

An NIS lawyer, Bichi Abba, who announced appearance in the matter, said Adamu was indisposed, and the judge fixed February 7, for Adamu to appear for the last chance.

There was, however, controversy, last Monday when Adamu appeared in court, stating that his office (NIS) had complied with the order since December 20, 2021.

He expressed surprise over Adedipe’s misinformation, which he said had cost him so much embarrassment.

He stressed that the NIS had since complied though he had been unable to file an affidavit to the effect.

“My Lord, I sincerely apologise that I didn’t file affidavit to show course for compliance. I am under the weather,” he said.

Responding, Ifedayo Adedipe said he was informed over the weekend that his client’s passport had been released to him in accordance with the court order.

In the affidavit of compliance and to show cause dated February 7 and filed same date, Adamu said upon receipt of court judgement and Odili’s letter requesting release of his passport dated December 17, 2021, NIS complied on December 20, 2021.

He said the Passport Numbers: A5021427 and B50031305 were released to Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme, Odili’s daughter, who is also a judge at a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) court, in accordance with Odili’s instruction in the letter signed by him.

The lawyer averred that not only did the passports handed over to Odili, he said the ex-governor’s name was removed from the watchlist on same day in compliance with court order.

He said since Odili’s counsel misled the court in giving an order for disciplinary action against him, it had caused unnecessary hardship on him emotionally, psychologically, physically and otherwise.

He stressed that it had also put his reputation to disrepute and exposed him to public odium and ridicule.

He said it was Adedipe, who misled the court that deserved to be sanctioned and face the disciplinary action of the court.

Beside, Adamu averred that Adedipe did not also inform the court that the appeal in the case was entered on January 20 after service had been effected on him making the Court of Appeal seized of the matter.

He said the senior lawyer’s action in the court’s proceedings on December 21, 2021 and January 21 deserved to be reported to the Legal Practitioner Disciplinary Committee for misconduct and appropriate taken.

Justice Ekwo, after perusing the affidavit and other exhibits attached, vacated the orders against Adamu and NIS.

The judge adjourned the matter until April 25 for report on the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Justice Ekwo had, on October 18, 2021, in a suit filed by Odili against the NIS and its Comptroller General, ordered the immediate release and return of his International passports.

Ekwo had also ordered the NIS to write an apology to Odili for the unlawful seizure of his passport as well as the embarrassment meted to him.

However, about 37 days after the court judgment, the NIS on November 23, 2021, told the court to stay execution because it had appealed the judgement.

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