Passport Seizure: Court Adjourns El-Zakzaky’s N4billion Suit Against Attorney-General Malami, Department Of State Services To January

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned to January 19, 2022, a suit filed by the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat challenging the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, over the seizure of his and wife’s international passports.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the case due to the absence of the first respondent.






El-Zakzaky through his lawyer, Femi Falana, had approached the court to compel the two respondents to release their travelling documents and lift the “Red Flag” restrictions placed on their International passports.

The couple is also seeking enforcement of their fundamental right to freedom of movement, and an order of perpetual injunction stopping the respondents from further harassment and intimidating behavior.

In their separate suits filed on October 14, the plaintiffs said their passports were seized from them after they returned from a government-supervised medical trip to India in 2019.

Each of them asked the court to order the respondents to pay them N2billion, totalling N4billion, “as general and exemplary damages” for the violation of their “rights to freedom of movement, fair hearing and property.”

El-Zakzaky and his wife were then standing trial at the Kaduna State High Court on charges of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, among charges filed against them in connection to the bloody clash between IMN members and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015.

The couple, who were freed of the charges with the Kaduna court declaring them not to have any case to answer in a July 28 ruling, said, in their rights enforcement suits, that the Indian trip “was supervised and controlled” by the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the SSS.

Following the Kaduna court’s ruling, the couple’s lawyer, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), wrote separate letters to the NIA, the SSS, and the AGF, demanding the release of their passports allegedly seized after the Indian trip.

According to them, they subsequently approached the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to verify the status of their passports “to enable them to travel for urgent medical attention” only to be told that “there was a restriction” placed by the SSS stopping them from travelling outside Nigeria.

NIS officials informed them that their passports and other travel documents seized from them could not be replaced unless the restrictions were lifted and the passports released to them, the couple said.

Their lawyer argued through their suits that the seizure of their passports and travel restrictions placed on them, violated their rights to “freedom of movement guaranteed by Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

The couple said they were currently facing deteriorating health conditions since their released from custody.

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