The Court of Appeal (CoA) has refused to reinstate former President Ian Khama’s decision that declared a well-known Nigerian medical laboratory scientist a prohibited immigrant (PI).
Peter Paul, who had been in the country since 2009 and working as laboratory manager for a certain Dr Mompati was declared a PI by the former in 2018.
He was accused of unlawfully running a church and having entered the country through an ungazetted point.
The State filed an appeal at the CoA to challenge Justice of the High Court, Omphemetse Motumise’s decision that reversed Khama’s declaration of the Nigerian man shortly after he was detained.
Dismissing the State and confirming Motumise’s judgement, Judge President Justice Ian Kirby said there was certainly no suggestion that Paul was a threat to national security nor a danger to the public interest.
“The government has been content to allow the respondent live a normal life and conduct his business peacefully in Botswana for in excess of a full year since his release was ordered. This is a strong indication that he is not a threat to national security at all,” he said.
Kirby explained that Khama had failed to respond with sufficient information on the source of his information and on its relevance in regard to Paul.
Kirby noted that Khama did not establish the jurisdictional facts necessary to be present before his discretion to effectively expel the scientist from the country as a PI.
“In the absence of any affidavit from the President (former in this case) there was no evidence, nor even an allegation, that the information on which he acted was from a reliable source and that it was not, as the respondent believed, based on the complaints of a business rival,” he said.
The judge also said the High Court was indeed obliged to set the President’s declaration aside and to order immediate release of the respondent.
Further, Kirby pointed out that there was an issue of the genuineness of the President’s signature and that had the matter been referred to evidence, it could have been established whether that was a fact or the President could have furnished evidence that he in fact signed the declaration.
On the declaration of prohibited immigrant, Kirby said the one served on Paul was non-compliant with the Immigration Act in the actual declaration made and ought to be set aside.
According to court papers, Paul, a 44-year-old laboratory scientist, prior to his PI he had been a law-abiding person and has had no brushes with the law, was fully complaint with all company, tax, immigration and labour laws and that he held valid work and residence permits tenable until 2020.
He was also described as highly qualified in an unusual field, as a medical laboratory scientist, having a university degree and several postgraduate certificates in related subjects, together with extensive experience in his field.
He owns a company, Labsroll Medicals with several branches and often does forensic work for the police, consults on medical issues, collaborates in training university students, and is involved in groundbreaking research on HIV and cancer.
Attorney Dutch Leburu represented the doctor while Oteng Thamuku appeared for the State.