A church in Kuala Lumpur has called on the authorities to release Simon Momoh, a Nigerian who is under detention pending deportation by the Immigration Department after having served his one-day jail sentence for drink driving.
The Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, in a statement, urged the department to consider the well-being of Momoh's Malaysian wife and their two young children and not deport the 33-year-old.
It said that Momoh was a parishioner of the church and was known to be "a loving husband and doting father".
"We are not here to stand in the way of justice. Our faith teaches us that our God is righteous and desires justice – but in the case of Simon, we believe he has already served his sentence and paid his dues.
"We hope those making the decisions will keep in mind his young children and the distress they must be going through. As a community, we unite with Low Kar Hui, Divine and Elisha and pray that the right thing will be done for this young family," said priest Leonard Lexson, referring to the names of Momoh's wife and their children.
Momoh served his one-day jail sentence on March 15. The punishment was handed down to him after he was found guilty of drink driving under Section 45A(1) of the Road Transport (Amendment) Act 2020. His wife also paid an RM12,000 fine that was imposed on Momoh.
However, immigration authorities rearrested Momoh as soon as he was released that day.
Under Section 35 of the Immigration Act, any person reasonably believed to be a person liable for removal from Malaysia may be arrested without a warrant by any immigration officer or by a senior police officer and may be detained in any prison, police station or immigration depot for a period not exceeding thirty days pending a decision as to whether an order for his removal should be made.
It is learned that the department is planning to deport Momoh. They had revoked his long-term spouse visa and also dismissed an appeal by Low to have her husband released.
The church expressed its hope that the country's leaders and lawmakers would "get things right".
"We hope that our leaders and lawmakers have every incentive to get things right because errors can be extremely costly. They are costly not just to the person who is unfairly sentenced, but to the society, to those fighting the cause, to the victim’s friends and family and even more in this case to two very vulnerable, young and innocent Malaysian children.
"Our Christian faith tells us that God demands that we be fair to others and treat all with dignity and respect not only in the church but in our homes, schools, workplaces and in our community.
"We, therefore, call on the government of Malaysia, the judicial authorities and the immigration heads, to not allow for this unlawful detention or deportation of Simon Momoh. We appeal that he is allowed to be reunited with his family with immediate effect," said the statement.
The church is also hosting an online prayer vigil for Momoh and his family, scheduled for 8am this morning.