From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Intels Nigeria Limited has approached the Federal High Court Abuja, challenging the Federal Government’s decision revoking the residence/work permits of 102 expatriates in its workforce.
The company is seeking the court’s permission to apply for judicial review of the decision which was taken by the Federal Government through the Comptroller General of Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede.
Intels is owned by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who recently dumped the President Muhammadu Buhari-led ruling All Progressives Congress Party for the Peoples Democratic Party.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1180/2017, was dated November 24, 2017 and filed on behalf of the company by Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN).
The Comptroller General of NIS is listed in the suit as the only respondent in the suit.
He had on November 15, 2017 issued a press statement that the residence/work permits of Intels expatriate staff had been revoked.
Babandede further issued a directive that the said persons should leave the Nigerian territory on or before November 30. Intels filed the action pursuant to Order 34 Rule 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.
When the case was mentioned in court yesterday, there was no legal representation for the Comptroller General of Immigrations.
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.
Consequently, Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the matter till 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”.
More so, Intels wants a declaration that the respondent acted ultra vires when he issued or authorized/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 formerly notify the applicant of his decision as herein before 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 NIS/HQ/PRU/267/V.1 and written under the hand of the Service Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian 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 the constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing of the applicant.
Among other reliefs, Intels is praying for an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Comptroller General of Immigration 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 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 is allowed, the operation of Intels will be severely jeopardised and state of hopelessness foisted upon the court in the event that Intels expatriate staff totalling 102 are deported from Nigeria before the hearing and the determination of the action which Intel intends to file challenging the decision of the respondent as it concerns the revocation or purported revocation of the residence/work permit of its expatriate staff.
More so, Intels stated the respondent had threatened to recommend to the Minister of Interior that its expatriate staff be deported any day after November 30, thereby foisting the state of hopelessness upon the court in view of impending suit to challenge the decision.