Intels asks court to freeze deportation order on expatriate staff

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Intels Nigeria Ltd. has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order granting it leave to apply for judicial review of the decision taken by the Comptroller General of Immigration, Muhammed Babandede, revoking the residence/work permits of 102 expatriates in its workforce.

The action with suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/1180/2017, dated November 24, 2017, was filed on behalf of Intels by its counsel Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN).

The only respondent in the suit, the Comptroller General of Immigration, had on November 15 issued a statement that the residence/work permits of Intels expatriate staff had been revoked.

Babandede further issued a directive that the said expatriates should leave the country on or before November 30.

The action filed by Intels was pursuant to Order 34 Rule 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.

However, the matter which was for mention on Monday could not proceed owing to the absence of legal representation for the respondent.

Adegbonmire, who announced appearance for Intels, told the court that hearing notice and the order asking the respondent to show cause why the reliefs being sought by the applicant should not be granted were served on the Immigration boss.

Following the development, the presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, adjourned hearing in the matter to January 10, 2018.

Specifically, the applicant is asking the court to declare that the decision of Nigerian Immigration “is unlawful, unconstitutional, wrong, and void ab initio.”

Moreover, Intels is seeking “a declaration that the respondent acted ultra vires when he proceeded to issue or authorised/directed the issuance of a press release dated the 15th day of November, 2017 with reference No. NIS/HQ/PRU/267/V.1 to the effect that the residence/work permits of the expatriate staff of Intels stand revoked, and further issuing a directive that the said persons shall leave the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on or before the 30th day of November, 2017, without first giving the applicant or the said persons the opportunity to be heard.

“A declaration that the failure of the respondent to communicate with the applicant or to formally notify the applicant of his decision as hereinbefore stated prior to the revocation or purported revocation of the residence/work permits of the expatriate staff of the applicant is unlawful and wrong.

“An order of certiorari quashing the decision of the respondent, as conveyed in the Nigeria Immigration Service press release dated 15th November, 2017 with reference no NIS/HQ/PRU/267/V.1 and written under the hand of the Service Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service upon the directions and authorisation of the respondent, by reason of the fact that the said decision is illegal, procedurally unfair, unconstitutional, unreasonable and/or irrational.

“An order of certiorari quashing the respondent’s decision to revoke the residence/work permits of the expatriate staff of the applicant on the grounds that the decision offends against the constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing of the applicant.”

Intels is also praying for an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Comptroller General of Immigrations to immediately reverse the revocation directive issued against the expatriates and to immediately restore/reissue to them, their residence/work permits.

Intels predicated the suit on the grounds that the decision was a violation of their right to fair hearing as under the 1999 constitution, because they were denied the opportunity of making representation to the respondent before the decision to revoke the residence/work permits of its 102 expatriate staff.

The company said the decision of the respondent as contained in the said press release by the Immigration Service on November 15 is ultra vires the statutory powers of the respondent as contained in the Immigration Act 2015, published as Legal Notice nos. 77 in vol 102, FRN Official Gazette of June 8, 2015.

According to Intels, if the Federal Government directive against Intels is not reversed, the organisation’s operation will be severely jeopardised.

If not reversed, the Federal Government’s action could also foist a state of hopelessness on the court in the event that Intels’ expatriate staffers totaling 102 are deported from the country before the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Intels intends to file the substantive suit challenging the decision of the respondent as it concerns the revocation or purported revocation of the residence/work permits of its expatriate staff.

The company also stated that the respondent had threatened to recommend to the minister of interior the deportation of its expatriate staff after November 30, thereby foisting the state of hopelessness upon the court in view of the impending suit challenging the decision.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who recently dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is said to have substantial interest in the embattled Intels.

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