Former governors and ministers as well as senior lawyers are among the 50 high profile persons barred by the federal government from travelling out of the country until the determination of corruption cases filed against them before the courts of the land.
This followed a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice should implement the Executive Order 6 (EO6) in full.
Schedule of the EO6 include a list of 155 cases of corruption and money laundering already pending before the court, with proceeds of looted funds valued at N595,409,838, 452.25.
Some of the affected cases involve former state governors, senators, military top brass, senior lawyers and police officers that held positions in previous administrations
The Executive Order 6 empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to take steps in conjunction with relevant investigative agencies to temporarily seize property linked with corruption cases pending investigation and those that are before the court.
A statement by senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, noted that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other security agencies have placed the 50 high profile Nigerians on watch-list with a view to restricting their movement out of the country.
Shehu explained that Buhari directed the AGF to implement the Executive Order 6 with full force following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Order.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP Sunday noted: “To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.
“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.
“It is instructive to noted that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter”.
Shehu further said the Buhari administration reassured all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
He continued: “Accordingly, this administration will uphold the rule of law in all its actions and the right of citizens would be protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption”.
Action Targeted At Our Members – PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday rejected attempts by the presidency to place travel restrictions on Nigerians, saying it amounts to foisting full-blown fascism on the country.
The party, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the move as a draconian step, which it said is clearly targeted at members of the opposition parties and perceived political enemies of the president.
The party also listed those it said are allegedly being targeted to include ‘well-meaning Nigerians, including members of the business community, religious leaders, former political leaders and traditional rulers, who are perceived to be averse to President Buhari’s re-election bid.”
The PDP further noted that the EO6 is a direct clampdown on the country’s democratic order and an overthrow of rights of the citizenry as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It stated: “We hope this is not a ploy to harm certain eminent Nigerians on the claims of resisting travel restrictions. The whole world can now see how fascism is fast taking over our democracy and judicial system and how the Buhari administration, by fiat, has directly ordered that citizens be secretly trailed, their movements and financial transactions restricted by government agencies, without recourse to due process of the law.
“While the PDP notes that the Buhari Presidency has gone into panic mode since the popular emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as PDP Presidential candidate and the spontaneous jubilation his emergence has evoked across the country, the party maintains that the resort to total clamp down on the opposition and our supporters will be totally unacceptable.
“What this means is that all Nigerians, particularly, opposition members, members of the business community and religious leaders, have become endangered and stand the risk of state violence under the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.”
The PDP further asked the international community to hold the Buhari Presidency responsible should any harm befall any opposition leader, key members of the business community and religious leaders across the country ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Ban Primitive, Resort To Political Witch-hunt – HURIWA
The recently announced travel ban placed on 50 unnamed Nigerians undergoing investigation or prosecutions by anti- graft bodies on charges related to corrupt practices has been described as a primitive resort to political witch-hunt and vendetta.
This was the submission of a prominent Non Governmental Organisation, Human Rights Writers Association.
The group in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said , the Nigerian Constitution in section 36 has clearly indicated that even when a citizen is charged before a competent court of law, the said individual is presumed innocent in the eye of the law until contrary determination is reached.
The Rights group which insisted that presidents Buhari cannot ban any Nigerian from traveling stated caregorically that , “the executive order number 6 which purports to be a policy guideline on the prosecution of suspects accused of hiding foreign located assets, does not have the force of a superior law to supercede the clear and binding provisions of the constitution .”
HURIWA accused President Muhammadu Buhari “ of attempting to declare a state of emergency by suspending the Constitution which is what the just issued Presidential statement meant when it authorised the profiling of certain Nigerians not yet convicted and to deny them their Constitutional freedoms.
HURIWA lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari for the errorneous interpretation of the ruling of the Federal High Court which validated his power to make general policy frameworks on the fight against corruption subject to the order of the competent court of law just as the Rights group reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that the Court couldn’t have unilaterally overruled or nullify the relevant sections of the Constitution
HURIWA said: “ for the avoidance of doubts, these are the exact provisions of fair hearing protected under 36(1) which affirmed extensively as follows: “
HURIWA condemned what it called the deliberate twisting to suit the executive whims and caprices of President Muhammad Buhari, the verdict as read out by the Federal High Court on the executive order 6.
HURIWA wondered the interest of the Presidency in introducing a new dimension to the court ruling so as to fully go after political opponents by the same Presidency that has disrespected over a dozen court orders against the government.
HURIWA has therefore asked the National Assembly to stop President Muhammad Buhari from plunging Nigeria into a full blown dictatorship and restore constitutional democracy to the path of honour and respect for the adherence to the principle of rule of law.