Lawyer Chime accuses NAATIP of wrongful possession of Nigerian international passports

Monday, June 24, 2019

Lawyer Emmanuel E. Chime has accused the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) of wrongful possession of two Nigerian international passports belonging to Pastor Edith A.O. Ibeneme and Pastor Andy Emerald, both Nigerians.

Lawyer E.E. Chime recently told the High Court in Banjul presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh that NAATIP has refused to comply with the court order dated 17 July, 2018 to return the international passports of Pastor Edith A.O. Ibeneme and Pastor Andy Emerald.

Lawyer Chime informed the court that his clients were absent in court when the matter came up on 10 June, 2019 on the grounds that the Immigration Department which is the 3rd respondent in the suit filed against NAATIP and three others had arrested his clients because they did not have residential permit and no international passports which were in the custody of NAATIP, the 1st defendant in the suit.

It could be recalled that the Inspector General of Police, the 2nd defendant in the suit filed a criminal charge against the plaintiffs; pastors Edith O.A. Ibeneme and Andy Emerald before the Brikama Magistrates’ Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Omar Cham who discharged them after the State withdrew the charge against them on the grounds that the Nigerian High Commission in The Gambia confirmed that the child allegedly stolen is a citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria.  He said the child was not stolen as alleged in the charge sheet, noting that the mother of the child had consented to the child’s whereabouts as being with the plaintiffs.

Following the withdrawal of the charge, principal Magistrate Omar Cham discharged the plaintiffs; Pastors Edith and Andy and ordered NAATIP to return their passports which they failed to comply with.

Lawyer E.E. Chime who was led by lawyer Lamin A.M.S. Jorbarteh as lead counsel in the suit raised a preliminary objection against the appearance of State Counsel Tunde E. Riley for NAATIP on the grounds that the State Counsel; T.E. Riley was not duly authorised in writing by NAATIP for representation and therefore, her appearance was null and void until there is evidence that she is authorised.

Meanwhile, the matter was adjourned to 27th 28th June, 2nd and 3rd July, 2019.

Author: Bruce Asemota