Immigration, EFCC fined N15m for barring Seinye Lulu-Briggs from travelling

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Court fines EFCC, Immigration N15m for barring Seinye Lulu-Briggs from travelling
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Immigration, EFCC fined N15m for barring Seinye Lulu-Briggs from travelling

Following what he described as the unlawful seizure of her passport, Justice Ayokunle Faji of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Nigeria Immigration Service to pay the sum of N15 million to a popular businesswoman, Seinye Lulu-Briggs.

The Judge gave the order following a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked FHC/L/CS/147/2020 filed by Lulu-Briggs who is the Chief Executive of Moni Pulo Limited and wife of late oil magnate, Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs.

The Comptroller-General of the NIS and the EFCC were listed as defendants in the suit filed on her behalf by a team of lawyers led by Funke Agbor (SAN). The counsel to the first and second respondents being the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the NIS were present while counsel to the third respondent, the EFCC was absent.

Delivering his judgment, a copy of which was obtained by Journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, the Judge dismissed the first and second respondents’ notice of preliminary objection and held that the originating processes were duly served on the respondents.

Court fines EFCC, Immigration N15m for barring Seinye Lulu-Briggs from travelling

The court also dismissed the third respondent’s preliminary objection and held that the act of initiating two separate actions in Lagos and Abuja on the basis that the infringement took place in Lagos and Abuja amounted to an abuse of court process.

Justice Faji held that the NIS could only prohibit the movement of any person where there is a certified order of a court of competent jurisdiction or if there is a warrant of arrest.

He held that a warrant of arrest can only be issued by a Judge or magistrate, adding that the seizure of Lulu-Briggs’ passport by the anti-graft agency and immigration was unlawful.

“The letter from the third respondent directing the arrest of the applicant did not constitute a warrant of arrest in any form or manner and cannot be a basis for restricting the movements of the applicant.

Court fines EFCC, Immigration N15m for barring Seinye Lulu-Briggs from travelling

“The law permits the first and second respondents from preventing a person from leaving Nigeria and not to prevent him from entering or delay his entry into the country. The acts of the respondents against the applicant in restricting her movements were done without lawful justification”, he said.

The Judge added that both the EFCC and NIS did not comply with the provisions of the law in inhibiting the movements of the applicant to and from Nigeria.

 

He said, “The travel ban on the applicants by the first and second respondents by way of a watchlist is a violation of the applicant’s right to fair hearing as she was not allowed to make representations before she was placed on the said travel ban.

“The fact that the third respondent foisted the doing of an illegal act on the first and second respondents does not give the first and second respondents the cover for illegality.

“The first and second respondents are both as liable if not more culpable than the third respondent.”

Justice Faji awarded “the sum of N15 million in favour of the applicant as exemplary damages, jointly and severally against each of the respondents.”

He said that each of the respondents should publish an apology to the applicant in two national newspapers and “in particular either The Guardian or The PUNCH Newspaper.”

•PUNCH