Chief Nnia Nwodo, President General – Ohanaeze Ndigbo
The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.
Raphael Ede, Enugu
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, has warned the Federal Government against the use of executive orders, which, he said, could lead to excessive abuse of law and order, thus, “unacceptable in a democratic dispensation.”
Nwodo, who stated this in a statement he issued through his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, said in exercising the orders, President Buhari must subject it to the provision of Chapter 4 of the constitution, which enshrines fundamental rights of individuals.
The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders, in a situation where a state of emergency does not exist or has not been proclaimed, are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.
He opined that a man cannot be subjected to any disability except as provided by the nation’s constitution and judiciary, adding that it was not proper for the president to stay in his office and decide the fate of any citizen outside the provisions of Section 6: 33 to 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo affirmed that fundamental rights cannot be derogated from without judicial pronouncements,” he said. (The Sun)
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright
Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has endorsed the Executive Order 6 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that it is important for rooting out corruption in the country.
The envoy in an interview with Channels TV on Monday noted that the order would assist in the fight against graft in the country.
He said, “I’ve heard that this is an anti-corruption measure, it’s not for me to say who should or should not be on the list. But what I would say is that it’s very important in continuing this fight against corruption and rooting out corruption where it is happening”.
Arkwright, however, refrained from commenting on the travel ban on 50 Nigerians by the Federal Government.
He stressed the need for peaceful and credible elections in 2019, adding that free, fair and credible election was important for political stability in the country.
The high commissioner said that meeting with political candidates was necessary to discuss expectations for the 2019 polls. (Punch)
Former Vice-President Atiku abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari
Niyi Odebode, Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu, Ade Adesomoju and Oladimeji Ramon
President Muhammadu Buhari’s travel ban on 50 Nigerians over the Executive Order 6, on Sunday attracted more condemnations.
The Peoples Democratic Party and the Coalition of United Political Parties had on Sunday slammed Buhari for the executive order, saying it was meant to cow opposition members.
But more Nigerians and groups including the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the Coalition for Nigeria Movement led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a civil society group, Access to Justice, on Sunday lambasted the President, describing his action as draconian, clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal.
Executive order’ll lead to capital flight, recession – Atiku
Atiku, in a statement by his media office in Abuja, warned that the Executive Order which was recently signed by Buhari would lead to capital flight and another recession.
He also said that the statement by the Presidency banning 50 unnamed Nigerians from travelling out of the country, purportedly on the strength of Executive Order 6, was undemocratic.
He described the travel ban as another form of intimidation ahead of the 2019 elections. Atiku said he abhorred any act of criminality, either financially or otherwise.
The presidential candidate, however, warned that the rule of law must be the guide at all times or society would descend into anarchy.
He said it was wrong for the President to act under a mere suspicion that the suspects were believed to have property overseas and were involved in tax dodging or other alleged financial infractions.
The statement partly read, “We must be unequivocal in saying that we abhor any act of criminality, financially or otherwise, but the rule of law must be our guide at all times or society will descend into anarchy.
“Thus, we find it most undemocratic that in a nation governed by the rule of law, a President who swore an oath to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does this.
“If past events are to be the judge, these 50 individuals will conveniently be critics and opponents of the Buhari administration.
“This is nothing short of intimidation ahead of the 2019 elections. This is what the Buhari administration did in Osun where they froze the accounts of the Adeleke family and then illegally and clandestinely paid N16.7bn to the Osun State Government to facilitate the daylight electoral robbery.”
The former Vice-President said “the Nigerian constitution guarantees every Nigerian citizen freedom of movement and freedom of association.”
This constitutional right, he added, could not be taken away except by a court order.
Atiku said, “If the Buhari administration wants to curtail the rights of Nigerians, then it must go to court and obtain a court order. Anything short of this is unconstitutional and extrajudicial.
“This sudden dictatorial act brings to mind President Buhari’s comments for which he was condemned by the international community and by the generality of Nigerians.
“While delivering an address at the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association on August 26, 2018, President Buhari has said ‘where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society.’
“That was not only a faulty interpretation of the constitution, the statement also betrays the dictatorial and authoritarian mindset of President Buhari because only he gets to decide who and what threatens national security.”
Atiku recalled Buhari’s Decree Number Two of 1984, which he said, criminalised truth telling if it did not please the President.
He said that the recent action of the President merely showed that “dictators can grow old, but they can’t grow into democrats.”
Atiku said, “Under the Buhari administration, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented capital flight out of the nation to the extent that we are not even listed amongst the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa in the latest ranking by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“It is salient to note that we were number one under the last Peoples Democratic Party administration.
“Funnily enough, the Buhari administration was unable to stop Abdulrasheed Maina, their financier, from leaving the country after he was illegally brought back by them and reinstated to the federal service with double promotion.
“It is precisely this type of draconian orders that have chased investors away from Nigeria and it is precisely why Nigerians will chase this recession-friendly government away from power on February 16, 2019, so we can begin the job of Getting Nigeria Working Again.”
Executive order targeted at opposition – Obasanjo coalition
On its part, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo lambasted the Buhari-led Federal Government for imposing a travel ban on 50 politically-exposed persons.
The CNM said this in a statement by its Director, Strategic communications, Akin Osuntokun, on Sunday.
According to the coalition, the ban, which was done in line with Executive Order 6, was a subversion of the rule of law, reminiscent of military decrees.
The CNM also described the new executive order as an attempt to muzzle the opposition.
The CNM said Buhari had been planning to use security agencies to achieve a hidden agenda hence his decision to compromise the nation’s security architecture.
The statement read in part, “Recall that journalists were jailed on account of a similar decree that criminalised any reporting that embarrassed his government. Against this background, what the Executive Order 6 portends is a significant step towards the creation of a police state.
“It is also against this background that the personalisation of the national security architecture makes sense. Otherwise, there would have been no need to continue to reinforce the lopsided and parochial subversion and subordination of the security agencies to a personality cult agenda, at every available opportunity.”
It’s counterproductive to FG’s anti-graft war – SERAP
Also, an anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, also condemned the travel ban, warning that it would be counterproductive to the government’s anti-corruption campaign.
The group, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, contended that the ban was “clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal,” demanding that the Federal Government should lift it immediately.
This was as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, argued that the travel ban was a usurpation of the power of the judiciary by the executive.
Ozekhome, who argued that the ban was targeted at the members of opposition political parties and voices critical of the Federal Government, described it as “an extreme panicky measure of desperation” by President Buhari ahead of the next year’s general elections.
SERAP, in its statement, argued that the travel ban violated both domestic and international laws that protect citizens’ human rights.
SERAP said, “The order banning 50 alleged high-profile corrupt Nigerians from travelling abroad without any legal basis and a judicial authorisation is clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal, as it breaches constitutional rights and the country’s international obligations, which protect the rights to freedom of movement, to leave one’s country, to privacy, and to due process of law.
“Rather than performing its declared objective of preventing dissipation of stolen assets, the travel ban would seriously undermine the government’s expressed commitment to combat grand corruption and violate the country’s international human rights obligations.
“The travel ban will play right into the hands of high-profile corrupt officials by feeding into the narrative that the fight against corruption is targeted only at political opponents.”
On his own part, Ozekhome said the ban was a violation of the principle of separation of powers.
Falana, AJ ask Buhari to lift travel ban on 50 VIPs
Also, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), and a civil society group, Access to Justice, faulted the travel ban.
Falana in a statement asked the President to immediately withdraw the travel ban, but Access to Justice called for the total cancellation of the entire PEO6, which it argued “is unquestionably anti-democratic and a veiled snare for citizens’ rights.”
“The PEO is also a gratuitous piece of dangerous precedent that opens the door to an uncontrollable dictatorship; it can be used arbitrarily and vindictively to fight and muzzle political opposition, and promote wholly politically-partisan objectives,” the Director of Access to Justice, Mr. Joseph Otteh, added in a statement on Sunday.
In separate statements on Sunday, Falana and Access to Justice, said the executive order could not be the basis for preventing suspects from travelling.
Falana described the travel ban as “superfluous” because either the court or the various anti-corruption agencies had already seized the passports of the affected persons.
He added that it was an “ingenious design to expose the Buhari administration to ridicule.”
He said, “If the Federal Government had done some background check it would have discovered that the names of the 50 VIPs have long been placed on security watch list while their passports have been impounded by the anti-graft agencies or the courts as one of the conditions for admitting them to bail.
“It is public knowledge that whenever the defendants wish to travel abroad for medical treatment they usually apply for the interim release of their passports. Since the courts have taken judicial notice of the perilous state of medical facilities in the country such applications are usually granted.”
He called on President Buhari to immediately withdraw the ban.
He said, “For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to caution the Buhari administration to wage the war against the menace of corruption within the ambit of the rule of law.”
On its part, the Access to Justice, in rejecting the travel ban, called for the reversal of the PEO6 which it said could be vindictively used to fight and muzzle political opponents, and promote wholly politically-partisan objectives.
Otteh said in the statement that the judgment on which the Federal Government anchored the decision for the issuance of the travel ban, made it clear that the Attorney General of the Federation who is the coordinator of the implementation of the PEO6 could not deny owners access to their assets without a court order.
Its director said in a statement, “It is also legally warrantless; the government claims the judgment of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on the case involving PEO 6, gives it authority to bar the named persons.
“This is so very untrue: the judgment clearly required the government to implement PEO 6 in a way that is consistent with the rule of law; the court ruled that the government (Attorney General) could not block, freeze or confiscate any funds or assets without an order of court! If the government cannot take property without an order of court, how could it legitimately bar persons (presumed innocent by the law), from exercising their rights to liberty and movement without an order of court?
“Access to Justice requests the Federal Government to immediately rescind this obnoxious Executive Order.
“In its stead, we ask for Presidential Executive Orders that mandate all persons and authorities, in line with the constitution, to obey all orders and judgments of courts immediately, release all persons ordered by courts to be set free, as well as pay reasonable living (minimum) wages to all workers!”
Why I don’t care about my travel ban – Fani-Kayode
However, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, says he is not moved by the decision of the Buhari-led government to bar him from travelling.
Fani-Kayode said in a statement that his passport had been with the courts and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission since 2008 thereby making it impossible for him to travel.
The ex-minister, however, said he pitied those who needed medical attention but had also been placed on the list of 50 persons not allowed to travel.
He said, “I could not give a damn that my name is on the list of 50 members of the opposition and prominent Nigerians that have been placed on a travel ban because nothing that Buhari does surprises me.
“I have not left Nigeria since 2008 because my passport has been with the EFCC and the courts for the last 10 years and they have refused to give it to me and allow me to travel. Those on the travel-ban list that need to travel abroad for medical attention or to see their loved ones are the ones I feel sorry for.
“For me, travel ban or no travel ban, I have no intention of leaving Nigeria anytime soon because I am one of those that will be on the forefront in the struggle to liberate our country and ensure that we get Buhari out of power in the next few months.”
Fani-Kayode said Buhari had shown repeatedly that he was a despot and would do anything to muzzle the opposition in order to retain power. (Punch)
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday validated the Presidential Executive Order 6 of 2018 which provides for the interim seizure of assets linked to ongoing criminal trials and investigations.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 5, 2018, issued the Presidential Executive Order, but two lawyers, Ikenga Ugochinyere and Mr Keneth Udeze, instituted a suit before the court to challenge its constitutionality.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu dismissed the lawyers’ suit for lacking in merit and affirmed that the President had the constitutional powers to issue the PEO as long as it did not encroach into the principles of separation of powers.
She ruled that the PEO was issued as a policy directive for the implementation of provisions of existing laws, adding that it also recognised the right of every citizen to approach the court for redress if aggrieved by the enforcement of the PEO.
The plaintiffs had on July 13, 2018, filed the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/740/2018, arguing that the PEO contravened constitutional provisions.
They argued that by virtue of the combined effect of sections 5, 36 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President lacked the power to issue the PEO.
They maintained that the President’s act or conduct in issuing the PEO interfered with or encroached into the ownership of assets or properties of any person who had not been found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The plaintiffs had through their lawyer, Mr Obed Agu, joined President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, as the defendants.
But dismissing the suit on Thursday, Justice Ojukwu agreed with the defendants’ lawyer, Mr Tijani Gazali, that the PEO could only be enforced in line with the provisions of the law and did not amount to an infringement of the rights of the affected person, who also had the right to approach the court to seek redress.
She ruled that contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, the Executive Order 6 did not violate the rights of citizens to fair hearing and to own property under sections 35 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution, but was informed by the President’s willingness to preserve suspected property from being dissipated while an investigation or criminal trial linked to it was ongoing.
“What the President has demonstrated by the Executive Order in question is his willingness to ensure the prevention of the dissipation of assets and funds connected with the commission of the offence of corruption and other related offences, until the determination of any corruption-related matter against the person or firm,” the judge held.
However, the judge made a little modification to the PEO which she noted seemed to give the AGF the discretion on when to seek the court’s permission to seize any property suspiciously linked to corruption or other criminal activities.
The judge, in modifying the order, directed that the AGF, who is assigned the coordinating role by the PEO, must, at all times, obtain a court order before seizing any asset.
While reiterating that the PEO must be implemented in accordance to the principles of the rule of law, she added that the coordinating role imposed on the AGF by the PEO was subject to Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and must be predicated on the existence of facts.
The judge ruled, “It is pertinent that the honourable Attorney General of the Federation, as the overseer of the activities of all the law enforcement authorities listed in the 2nd Schedule to the Executive Order, should ensure due process and uniformity of purpose.
“It is the further opinion of this court that the honourable Attorney General of the Federation first obtains an order of the court in all circumstances before blocking or freezing or confiscating such funds or assets pending the conclusion of an investigation or legal action.
“An application may be made ex parte and if the court is satisfied with the averment and information contained in the application, the order may be granted.
“It is, however, recommended that an order of the court in that regard include a period of investigation or subsequent date. Where the court is of the opinion that the party to be affected by the order should be put on notice, the court should make that determination.”
Affirming the constitutionality of the PEO and the need to implement it in line with the rule of law, the judge ruled, “In the final analysis, what this court has to say is as follows:
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has powers under sections 5 and 315 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to issue Executive Orders on routine administrative matters, to state’s policies, especially for the internal operations of state’s agencies insofar as it does not step on the toes of legislative and judicial powers under the constitution.” (Punch)
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, said the anti-corruption war of his administration was not negotiable.
He said it was a must for him to fight graft because that was one of the reasons he was elected.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President spoke while receiving a former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mbeki, who heads the African Union High-Level Panel on Illicit Flows from Africa, was in Nigeria to give Buhari, who is the current champion of AU Anti-Corruption Campaign, some updates.
The President said since his electoral promises to Nigerians included fighting corruption, he could not afford to let the people down.
He said, “For this administration, fighting corruption is non-negotiable. It is a must.
“We must fight corruption frontally because it’s one of the reasons we got elected.
“We campaigned on three fundamental issues: security, reviving the economy, and fight against corruption. It’s the reason we got elected, and we can’t afford to let our people down.”
Noting that the government was making progress on the anti-corruption war, “and not just talking,” the President said he was very pleased with the assignment the former South African President was carrying out for the African continent.
He submitted that when Africa was vigorous with the war against corruption, “we will eventually appeal to the conscience of the rest of the world.”
In his remarks, Mbeki said corruption was an African challenge that must be responded to, “as development challenges can only be met through the check of illicit financial flows.”
He said he was delighted that Buhari touched on the issue in most of his speeches, with the most recent being at the United Nations General Assembly last week.
“We are pleased with the way you take up the matter. Countries need the political will to stop the illicit flow. Nigeria has shown a good example.
“The more we are showing that we are acting as Africans, the easier to get the rest of the world to cooperate,” Mbeki said. (Punch)
Eniola Akinkuotu, Gbenro Adeoye, and Jesusegun Alagbe
At least eight out of the politicians working for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 election have pending corruption cases worth N232bn, checks by SaturdayPUNCH have revealed.
The investigation by our correspondents showed that the amount involved in the various graft cases, which are currently pending before security agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, range from N223m to N100bn for each of the politicians.
Some of the eight politicians, who used to be members of the Peoples Democratic Party and other opposition parties, had allegedly defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress to stop the dangling axe of the EFCC and other security agencies from falling on them.
Specifically, the politicians who are currently either under probe or prosecution for allegedly diverting government funds have separately vowed to ensure Buhari remains in power until 2023.
The eight politicians include the senator representing Nasarawa West at the National Assembly, Abdullahi Adamu; the senator representing Sokoto North and former Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko; ex-Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who recently defected from the PDP to the APC; and a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Others are the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; the former Governor of Rivers State and Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, Rotimi Amaechi; the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; and former National Chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff.
Abdullahi Adamu (N15bn)
For instance, Adamu, a serving senator and former Governor of Nasarawa State, is one of the President’s allies in the Senate. He is also a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Buhari 2019 Presidential Support Committee.
The lawmaker is being prosecuted alongside 18 others for allegedly stealing N15bn from the treasury through contracts awarded when he was governor for eight years.
His son, Nurianu, was also arraigned by the EFCC in January 2018 for alleged N90m fraud. However, the former governor has been one of the fiercest critics of Senate President Bukola Saraki.
According to Saraki, the former governor has been insulting him in order to get a soft landing.
Saraki had said in July, “I have deliberately ignored the antics of Senator Abdullahi Adamu, especially his constant media attacks on me and the Senate since the EFCC dusted his file on the alleged case of corruption and also went ahead to arraign his son in court.”
Aliyu Wamakko (N15bn)
Senator Aliyu Wamakko is in charge of Buhari’s campaign in Sokoto State. A few weeks ago, he held a massive rally on behalf of Buhari in order to prove to the President that Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s defection would be of no effect.
Wamakko, who served as governor from 2007 to 2015, is under investigation over allegations of theft of public funds and money laundering totalling N15bn, an allegation he has vehemently denied.
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, had confirmed in April that the commission was investigating allegations contained in a petition against Wammako and that he would soon be invited to defend the allegations.
Godswill Akpabio (N100bn)
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State has been under probe by the EFCC for over three years based on allegations that he diverted over N100bn from the coffers of the state between 2007 and 2015.
Akpabio was welcomed into the APC by the President himself.
The former governor, who represents Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, recently vowed that the APC would take over Akwa Ibom the way Adolph Hitler invaded Poland.
Akpabio, who on Friday travelled to China with the President is arguably the closest defector to Buhari and has vowed to do everything possible to ensure Buhari is re-elected.
Although he has been grilled by the EFCC, he has not been charged.
Orji Uzor Kalu (N3.2bn)
Kalu, who governed Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was one of the most influential politicians in the South-East during his time in government. After leaving the PDP, he formed the Progressive Peoples Alliance from where he contested and lost a senatorial election in 2015.
The following year, he defected to the APC and has paid several visits to the President since then.
Recently, he visited the President in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, where he was bestowed with the title, ‘Dan Baiwan Hausa’ by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouq.
According to the emir, Kalu was bestowed with the title in appreciation of his “unwavering support for our son, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Bayajida II .”
However, the former governor has been having a running legal battle with the EFCC since leaving office.
The EFCC alleged that Kalu and the others committed fraud between August 2001 and October 2005. It accused Kalu of utilising his company (Slok Nigeria Limited) to retain in the account of First Inland Bank, now First City Monument Bank, the sum of N200m.
The commission said that the sum formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State government. The EFCC also said that the accused retained, in different bank accounts, about N2.5bn belonging to the state government, adding that he diverted about N3.2bn from the coffers of the same government.
Regardless of his travails, the former governor has insisted that he will do all within his power to ensure that Buhari is re-elected.
Babachir Lawal (N223m)
The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, was accused by the Senate ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, led by Senator Shehu Sani, of awarding a N223m consultancy contract for the removal of invasive plant species in Komadugu, Yobe Water Channels to his company, Rholavision Engineering in contravention of Section 43(iii) and (iv) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
A committee headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo subsequently investigated Lawal and recommended his dismissal in October 2017, a year after he was indicted by the Senate.
Although he is under probe by the EFCC, Babachir is among the key figures running Buhari’s re-election campaign in Adamawa State. He also revealed during a recent interview on Channels Television that he still had direct access to the President.
The former SGF has been having a leadership tussle with Governor Jibrilla Bindow over who should lead Buhari’s campaign in the state.
Rotimi Amaechi (N97bn)
Amaechi, who was the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, has been charged with the task of ensuring that Buhari is elected a second time.
The Minister of Transport, who is the face of the Buhari campaign, was indicted by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the sale of state assets.
He and others were accused of allegedly misappropriating N97bn through the sale of the state valued assets.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had alleged that $150m (N30bn at the time) was spent on Buhari’s campaign in 2015.
Amaechi challenged his indictment but lost at the Appeal Court. Although anti-graft agencies have refused to state if he is under investigation or not, he has yet to clear his name and is still under investigation by the state government.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, insisted that Amaechi was not cleared by the panel that indicted him on the sale of some assets belonging to the state.
Also, a top official at the Government House in Port Harcourt pointed out that at the last count on the matter, the former governor had gone to the Supreme Court.
An appeal filed by Amaechi against the Justice George Omereji-led panel was in May 2017 dismissed by the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt.
The Appeal Court had said that the refusal of Amaechi to appear before the panel amounted to self-denial.
But Okah said that the matter was currently at the Supreme Court.
“He (Amaechi) went to court against the panel and the matter is still in the Supreme Court. The state government has not cleared him on the matter concerning the sale of valued assets belonging to the state,” he said.
Amaechi could not be reached for comments, as he did not answer calls to his mobile phone.
A text message sent to him on the matter did not get any reply.
However, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Transportation told our correspondent that the minister was out of the country.
The official, who also works directly with the minister, stated he (the official) was not aware of the said allegations against Amaechi.
“I have not seen it (the report) and can’t speak on it. However, the minister is in China right now,” the official, who pleaded to be anonymous, said.
Abdul’aziz Yari (N680m)
Yari has been engaged in a fierce battle with the EFCC for over a year following allegations that he diverted nearly N700m which formed part of the Paris Club refund due to his state.
In July last year, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered an interim forfeiture of the sums of N500m and $500,000 (N180m) said to have been looted from the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.
The sums of money said to have been recovered from two firms, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited were allegedly linked to the governor.
The EFCC also alleged, in an affidavit filed in support of its ex parte application seeking the interim forfeiture of the sums of money, that the N500m was diverted to offset Yari’s personal loan obtained from the First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited.
In July, the Presidential Support Committee of Buhari 2019 appointed Sheriff as the director-general.
The National Secretary of the group, Kassim Kassim, said in a statement that the conglomerate of about 300 Buhari supporters’ groups unanimously endorsed Sheriff to lead the Presidential Support Committee, Buhari 2019 and not the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation for the 2019 election.
He said groups that made up the Presidential Support Committee were all registered with the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters.
Sheriff and others are under investigation for allegedly receiving N450m out of the N23bn ($115m) bribe allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 elections.
He has been grilled several times by the EFCC but was never charged. His private jet was also impounded by the commission but later released to him.
Sagay, EFCC react
Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said joining the President’s camp would not save any politician from probe or prosecution.
He said those whose cases had already been taken to court would continue to face prosecution.
Sagay, however, said there was room for a plea bargain, an option he said stubborn people would never use.
He said, “I know Akpabio is still under probe and if he is found culpable, he would be invited and prosecuted. For me, the only import of him joining the President’s campaign is that he can be persuaded to make a plea bargain quickly, which everyone is entitled to, but the stubborn ones will not take that option
“As for allegations against Amaechi, he was indicted by a fake and useless judicial panel set up by Wike, who is himself under investigation for corruption. He set up a kangaroo panel, which Amaechi refused to answer to.”
When asked about the Appeal Court ruling which ordered Amaechi to answer to the panel, Sagay added, “he doesn’t have to answer to rubbish. Judges who allow themselves to engage in injustice deserve to be disregarded. Amaechi is innocent. All the charges were trumped up.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, the EFCC Spokesperson, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said joining the President’s camp would not translate to immunity from prosecution.
Uwujaren said, “The EFCC neither closes cases nor clears people. Also, being in the President’s party does not give anyone immunity from prosecution.”
Buhari, who later won the presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had consistently accused the then ruling party, the PDP of engaging in mind-boggling corrupt practices.
“If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” Buhari had said repeatedly during the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
However, no sooner had he been declared winner than some politicians from the same corrupt party began defecting to the President’s own party.
While some of the allegedly corrupt persons were kept at arm’s length, others became very close to the President, constantly appearing in pictures with the professed anti-corruption champion and sending mixed signals to Nigerians.
SERAP, CACOL react
The Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, however, said it would be wrong to condemn the President for being supported by people alleged to be corrupt if there was no proof that he had prevented anti-corruption agencies from prosecuting such people.
He said, “Unless you want to tell me that the anti-corruption agencies will not do anything unless they are prompted or unless somebody says they should do it, I don’t want to believe rumours. Allegations must be backed by concrete evidence for it to be substantiated. I don’t want to think that somebody with convincing evidence against him will be prevented from facing the music simply because he supports the President. For example, Kalu still has his case in court.”
Similarly, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said it would be wrong to presume people guilty because they have corruption allegations against them and that the President could not have stopped anyone from supporting him, in any case.
He said, “You can’t prevent sinners from going to a religious place, what you don’t have to allow is for them to take over the pulpit to preach the doctrine of the crimes that they have been committing. From our recent experience, defecting to the ruling party has not, in practical terms, stopped the trial of some of the politicians. For instance, Kalu’s case is still in court.
“And as of now, Akpabio has yet to be convicted and until someone is convicted, you cannot say they have committed a crime. Even Kalu, whose case is in court, cannot be said to be guilty of the offence until he is convicted. So, it is a moral question and the moral suasion has its limit.”
But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Onueze Okocha, said President Buhari was sending a dangerous and negative signal to Nigerians by allowing people with pending corruption cases to work for his re-election.
He said, “The whole thing sends a dangerous and unhappy signal to all of us that the so-called anti-corruption war is not whole. We can all see that only those in the opposition are mainly those investigated of corruption while those in the ruling party are regarded as sacred cows.
“It’s what we’ve always known; there is no effectiveness in the anti-corruption war. Look at Akpabio, for instance, shortly after he was elected to the Senate, the EFCC raided his house and found lots of cash. Now that he has defected to the APC, what happens to him?
“Babachir Lawal, though has been sacked, is still free to walk around. Look at the issue of fake National Youth Service Corps certificate held by Mrs Kemi Adeosun, all these tell us there are sacred cows in the anti-corruption war.” (Punch)
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday promised Nigerians that he would never surrender to corruption.
He said fighting corruption was a task that must be done in order to protect the larger interests of the ordinary Nigerians whom he said were the worst victims of diseases, poverty, malnutrition and other afflictions.
Buhari spoke in his Eid-el Kabir message to Nigerians made available to journalists by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The President said surrendering to corruption was not an option because it destroyed society and progress of nations.
“Even if some people hate you for fighting corruption, you should not chicken out from the task as a leader because doing so is a betrayal of public trust,” he said.
The President explained that religion was a major factor in influencing human behaviour towards good conduct and action.
He, however, regretted that selfishness, greed and corruption had overwhelmed human beings to the extent that people abandoned their religious beliefs in pursuit of their greed.
On the current economic challenges facing Nigerians, the President reassured Nigerians that such were temporary because the welfare of the people was the main thrust of the change agenda of his administration.
To buttress this point, Buhari cited the many initiatives unfolded by the administration under the Social Investment Programme among which was the recent decision to distribute recovered looted funds to the poor against the past practices of re-looting such funds by some people in authority.
Buhari urged Nigerians to rise above personal, group, sectarian and other interests, and promote harmony and tolerance in dealing with one another at all times.
He urged all Muslims to use the Eid-el Kabir for sober reflection and self-examination, and strive to be good ambassadors of their religion by upholding high moral values
He reminded Muslims that this occasion of Eid-ul-Adha is a remembrance of the submission of Prophet Ibrahim Allaihis-Salaam to Allah, his Creator, by which he taught the world the value of sacrifice in relating with one another, and when it comes to nation-building.
“We must sacrifice for others and remember always those who are less fortunate than ourselves,” the President declared.
Meanwhile, President Buhari is billed to celebrate this year’s Eid-el Kabir with his kinsmen in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State on Tuesday.
The President on Monday left Abuja for the purpose.
His convoy left the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 3.06pm.
Some top government officials saw Buhari off as he left for his hometown.
The government officials included his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; the National Security Officer, Babagana Monguno; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The President is expected back in Abuja after the Sallah break.
Recall that the Federal Government had earlier declared Tuesday and Wednesday as public holidays to mark the Sallah. (Punch)