Simon Momoh (left) and his Malaysian wife Low Kar Hui at the Shah Alam court complex June 2, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
KUALA LUMPUR, — Nigerian man Simon Adavize Momoh has sued the Immigration Department director-general and three others for illegally detaining him for 40 days and for illegally ordering him to be deported from Malaysia.
He is also seeking over RM4 million in compensation, including for his and his young Malaysian family’s emotional distress.
In the civil lawsuit filed in the High Court in Shah Alam on January 10, Simon listed the types of compensation which he is claiming, including RM2 million in general damages at a rate of RM50,000 for each day of his unlawful detention from March 15, 2021 until his release on April 23, 2021
He is also seeking for RM1 million in damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress and mental anguish, exemplary damages totalling RM1 million, and special damages of RM3,925.31.
The four respondents sued are the Immigration Department’s director-general, the Malaysia Prison Department director-general, the home minister and the government of Malaysia.
The lawsuit is scheduled for case management at the High Court in Shah Alam on February 9.
Simon is married to a Malaysian, and they have two young Malaysian children who will be turning 10 and seven this year.
After his arrest on March 15, 2021 and pleading guilty to the offence under Section 45A(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for driving when the alcohol level in his body exceeded the limit set, he paid a RM12,000 fine and served the one-day jail sentence for the offence.
While his spouse visa was still valid until October 2022 and his Nigerian passport was also valid until August 2021, Simon was not released after serving the one-day jail term, but was brought on March 15 to Kajang Prison which he was locked up and was further kept at the Semenyih immigration depot until April 23, 2021 when he won a court bid to be released.
While he was still being detained, the Immigration Department issued an order on April 9, 2021 to revoke his visa and issued an order on April 12, 2021 to have him deported from Malaysia. His lawyers only discovered this when they were allowed to meet him in the immigration depot on April 16, 2021.
In his lawsuit, Simon said the order to remove him from Malaysia meant he would be separated from his young family in Malaysia and failed to consider the effect it would have on him, his wife and their two Malaysian children.
On April 23, 2021, the High Court in Shah Alam ordered the immediate release of Simon after ruling that he had been unlawfully detained, which enabled him to finally reunite with his family after 40 days of separation. (The three respondents in that court challenge were the Malaysian Prisons Department, the Immigration Department of Malaysia and the Home Ministry.)
At that time, the deportation order was still in existence, but he could remain in Malaysia while pursuing his challenge against the deportation order through a special one-month renewable pass issued on April 23, 2021 by the Immigration Department.
Previously on April 20, 2021, Simon had filed a lawsuit through judicial review to challenge the deportation order, naming the Immigration director-general and the home minister as the two respondents.
On June 2, 2022, the High Court in Shah Alam ruled in favour of Simon, quashing the deportation order.
This meant he could stay on in Malaysia with his family. His spouse visa or social visit pass has been renewed until January 2025, while his Nigerian passport has been renewed until December 2027.
Simon said the government did not file appeals against his wins in the challenge against his unlawful detention and the challenge of the deportation order.
Among other things, Simon in his lawsuit filed this month claimed that his constitutional rights had been breached, due to reasons such as not being informed of the grounds of his arrest as soon as possible as guaranteed under Article 5(3) and was only told of this 31 days after his arrest after his lawyers were informed on April 16, 2021.
He said was not produced in court before a magistrate throughout his unlawful detention, despite the Immigration Act and the Federal Constitution requiring him to have been produced before a magistrate within 14 days of his arrest or detention before he could be detained further.
Simon is claiming for the compensation partly for the “pain and suffering, emotional distress and mental anguish” he had experienced, while noting that his wife and children also faced “mental anguish and were emotionally unstable” as they were aware whether he could return to the family safely and be able to raise them.