NIS seeks court order to stop fleeing officials

The Nigeria Immigration Service has said it will require either a court order or an order by an interior minister to stop any official from leaving the country.

The NIS was responding to an enquiry by our correspondent following the revelation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that it was collaborating with other security agencies to prevent some governors, ministers and commissioners accused of corruption from fleeing the country after May 29.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement recently said some officials had perfected plans to flee the country. He noted however that the EFCC was collaborating with its foreign partners to frustrate the plans of such governors and politicians.

Former governors under the commission’s probe included Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, while governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, is also said to be on the commission’s watch list. Already, some of his relatives have been dragged to court by the EFCC.

“The commission is working with sister security agencies to ensure that the ex-governors and ministers that are being probed for corruption don’t escape after May 29,” the source said.

In his response to our correspondent’s enquiry on the development, the spokesperson for the NIS, Anthony Akuneme said, “We can only stop these people from flying out of the country if there is a court injunction asking us to stop them from leaving, or if there is an order by the Minister of Interior flagging such persons from flying out of the country.

“Although I can’t confirm receipt of any correspondence from the EFCC about this yet, however, if there is a court injunction or an order of the interior minister requesting the NIS to stop certain persons from fleeing the country, their passports would be flagged, and all our officers would be put on alert to ensure that such persons are not allowed to leave the country.”

Meanwhile, Uwujaren had said, “We are doing our investigations covertly. The ones that were made known only came out because it was necessary. It is not in our style to make our investigations public until they are concluded.”

Earlier, the EFCC said it was investigating Matawalle on allegations of corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70bn. The commission said it was compelled to make the ongoing investigation public following his recent attempt to cast aspersions on the integrity of the agency.

Also, the EFCC is probing the Kogi State governor for alleged corruption, including over 14 properties both in Nigeria and abroad and N400m, among other allegations.

Fayemi, who left office in October 2022, is also under investigation over allegations of N4bn money laundering. He was on Thursday questioned at the zonal command office of the commission in Ilorin, Kwara State.