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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Another sleepless night for family of detained Nigerian

 

Simon Adavize Momoh has been separated from his wife, Low Kar Hui, and two daughters for over two weeks despite having paid a RM12,000 fine and served a day in jail for drink-driving. (Low Kar Hui pic)

PETALING JAYA: A woman and her two young daughters in Puncak Jalil have just come through another sleepless night with the thought of their husband and father having spent his 16th straight night behind bars while they wait for the Immigration Department to verify his documents.

Simon Adavize Momoh, a 33-year-old Nigerian is married to a Malaysian auditor, was arrested in the early hours of March 15 on suspicion of drink-driving when stopped at a roadblock at Jalan Cheras.

After being taken to the Jalan Tun HS Lee traffic police headquarters, he was brought to the Kuala Lumpur High Court later the same morning.

Charged under Section 45A(1) of the Road Transport (Amendment) Act 2020, he pleaded guilty and his wife, Low Kar Hui, paid the RM12,000 fine.

Low said a police officer told her that Momoh would be released at 5pm the same day after serving a one-day jail sentence for pleading guilty.

However, she is still waiting to see him after 16 days.

“I have lost contact with my husband for two weeks,” Low told FMT.

“After I paid the fine, I went home as he told me not to worry and that he would call me in the evening to fetch him. But I didn’t hear from him.

“When I was paying the fine at the court, another police officer told me that Momoh would be sent to the Kajang prison. I called up the Kajang prison the next day and they confirmed that he was there.

“They said he had already served his (one-day) sentence but they could not let him go pending the Immigration Department verifying his documents.

“He has valid documents and I had already paid the fine, so I don’t understand why they are still holding him.”

Momoh, who moved to Malaysia to complete his studies in 2009, is on a long-term spouse visa valid until Oct 14, 2022.

Married for eight years, the couple have two daughters, Divine, eight, and Elisha, five. Momoh is a stay-at-home dad as his visa does not allow him to work in the country.

Low said prison officials told her that Momoh will have to take a Covid-19 swab test before he can be transferred to the Immigration Department’s care, where they will decide whether to potentially deport him.

The 33-year-old said she has tried contacting the immigration authorities but has been unable to reach the relevant section, and she has also been unable to visit her husband in prison.

Low’s lawyer, V Vemal Arasan, questioned the need to detain Momoh, saying the detention of foreign nationals for such offences now seems to be a policy.

He said the Prisons Department notified his office of the new policy in December.

Vemal pointed out that while the Immigration Department had the right to deport foreigners found guilty of certain offences, he doubted that a drink-driving charge would qualify, especially since there was no loss of life or damage to government property.

“The question is whether this is an offence that requires him to be deported? But how can this be?” he told FMT.

He said that while Section 35 of the Immigration Act allows a foreigner to be detained for 30 days pending a decision on whether an order for his removal should be made, Low was not informed of any such timeline.

“That is depriving a person’s liberty without a set time-frame. Anyone sentenced to prison, even for the most heinous crime, they know when they’re going to be released.

“Keeping him indefinitely like this is definitely unconstitutional.”

And as tough as it may have been, Low said she has been honest with her daughters as to their father’s whereabouts.

“I told them the truth,” she said when asked how she explained Momoh’s absence to the girls.

“They really miss him and have been crying every night. They are a bit traumatised by this and their behaviour has changed. Whenever I try to cheer them up, they say it would be good if their father was with them.”

FMT has reached out to the Immigration Department for comment. - FMT

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