Putrajaya lets Nigerian Simon Momoh remain in Malaysia pending court challenge against deportation

Simon Momoh's wife, Low Kar Hui, shows a picture of her husband on her phone at the Shah Alam High Court April 21, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Simon Momoh's wife, Low Kar Hui, shows a picture of her husband on her phone at the Shah Alam High Court April 21, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — The government will allow a Malaysian’s Nigerian husband, Simon Adavize Momoh, to lawfully remain in Malaysia until the High Court decides on his legal action against the Immigration Department’s order to deport him from the country.

Simon was recently kept apart from his Malaysian wife and their two young Malaysian daughters as he had been detained by Malaysian authorities for 40 days since March 15.

He was only released last Friday (April 23 which was also the 40th day of detention) as the High Court in Shah Alam found his detention to be unlawful and unconstitutional.

While Simon had been detained, his lawyers applied on April for judicial review on his behalf, naming the Immigration director-general and the home minister as the two respondents.

Simon’s lawyer, V. Vemal Arasan, said the lawsuit came up for case management today in the High Court in Shah Alam before judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh.

Vemal Arasan said the next case management date has been fixed for May 6 before the same judge, with the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) — which is representing the Immigration director-general and the home minister — to confirm if the respondents would be objecting to Simon’s application for leave for judicial review.

“In the interim, respondents have stated that they will be issuing a formal letter by May 6, 2021, allowing Simon’s special pass to be extended under Regulation 14 of the Immigration Regulations 1963, for as long as necessary until the disposal of our application,” Vemal told Malay Mail today.

According to Vemal Arasan, lawyer James Joshua Paulraj also appeared today for Simon, while the AGC’s senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly and federal counsel Liyana Muhammad Fuad had appeared for the respondents.

For lawsuits filed via judicial review application, the High Court must first grant leave for the judicial review to be heard, before the judicial review application can proceed to be heard by the court on its merits and on substantive issues.

Lawyer V. Vemal Arasan speaks to reporters at the Shah Alam High Court April 21, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Lawyer V. Vemal Arasan speaks to reporters at the Shah Alam High Court April 21, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Prior to Simon’s 40-day detention from March 15 to April 23, he had a spouse visa that was valid until October 2022.

But after considering Simon to be a “prohibited immigrant” over his one-day jail sentence for a drink-driving offence and a person liable to be deported, the Immigration authorities on April 9 cancelled his spouse visa and issued a deportation order dated April 12.

Simon’s lawsuit aims to challenge both the visa cancellation and the deportation order by the Immigration authorities.

For now, Simon may temporarily be in Malaysia despite the cancellation of his spouse visa, due to the special pass which his lawyer Vemal Arasan said was issued on April 23 or the same day that Simon was released from his 40-day detention.

Asked if Simon has anything to share over his release, Vemal Arasan briefly said: “He said he was really glad to be released. However he and his family are really exhausted.”

Separately, Simon’s Malaysian wife Low Kar Hui wrote on April 19 to the home minister in a bid to appeal for the reversal of the visa cancellation and deportation order. Vemal Arasan today confirmed that the wife has yet to receive a reply to the appeal.

Simon has been married to Low for the past eight years.

Before his detention, Simon was a primary caregiver as a stay-at-home father for their two daughters aged eight and five, as his spouse visa had only allowed him to remain in Malaysia but not to work.

Read here for the chronology of events that saw Simon being kept under detention for more than a month away from his young Selangor family since March 15, despite him having served his symbolic one-day jail term and paid a RM12,000 fine for a drink-driving offence.

Read here for more on the lawsuit that Simon filed, including the six specific court orders that he is seeking in order to ensure that he can stay on in Malaysia with his family.

Read here for the High Court in Shah Alam’s decision last Friday afternoon to order for Simon to be freed from his detention. Simon’s wife had expressed relief and gratitude over the decision, and he was released the same night from the Semenyih immigration detention centre to finally reunite with his family.

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