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Executive Order Will Lead To Abuse Of Law, Order, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Warns|RN

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)

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Executive Order 6 Imperative For Fight Against Corruption – British Envoy |RN

British-envoy-Paul-Arkwright
         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)

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Travel Ban Will Cause Capital Flight, Push Economy Into Recession, Says Atiku |RN

  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)

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Executive Order 6: Court Backs Buhari On Seizure Of Looters’ Assets |RN

                                            President Muhammadu Buhari

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

 

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)

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Buhari Has Power To Issue Executive Order 6 – Lai Mohammed |RN

Lai-Mohammed

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Chukwudi Nweje

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that President Muhammadu Buhari has the power to issue Executive Order Number 6.

Besides, Mohammed described the Executive Order as the administration’s most potent weapon against corruption.

The minister stated this at a press conference in Lagos, on Sunday, where he explained that section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which extends to the execution and maintenance of the constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly, mandated president Buhari to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and challenged those opposed to it to go court.

‘’The truth is that, having realised the potency of the Order in giving muscle to the fight against corruption, which, by the way, is one of the three cardinal programmes of our administration, the corrupt and their cohorts have become jittery. They have every reason to be. Henceforth, it won’t be business as usual.

“For those who claim that the Executive Order Number 6 is dictatorial, it is clear they have not even read it. Section 3 (i) of the Order states that any person who alleges that his rights have been violated, are being or are likely to be contravened by any of the provision of this Executive Order, may apply to a competent court in his jurisdiction for redress,’’ said Mohammed.

Last week, the National Assembly urged the president to suspend its implementation, having noted that it is similar to Decree 2 of 1984.

Regardless, Mohammed noted that executive orders are neither new to Nigeria nor will president Buhari be the first to sign them. “In 1980, then President Shehu Shagari issued an Executive Order to modify the Public Order Act. This was unsuccessfully challenged in court by then governors of Ogun and Borno states and, in 1999, then President Olusegun Obasanjo issued executive orders to abolish the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and to proclaim May 29 as Democracy Day”, he said.

According to the minister, the war against corruption must be won, in order to free resources for the nation’s development. He also noted that it is the new measure became necessary to “re-kit and re-tool’’ the administration’s arsenal to effectively tackle corruption.

Mohammed said even in the United States of America, after which Nigeria’s presidential system of government is fashioned, presidents, starting from George Washington to Donal Trump, have used Executive Orders to shape policies.

“George Washington, who was president of the US from 1789 to 1797, issued eight Executive Orders. Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) issued 3,522 Executive Orders; Barack Obama (2008-2016) issued 275 in eight years; Bill Clinton (1993-2001) 364 and current President Donald Trump, 80 so far. Recently, the US Supreme Court upheld, 5-4, President Trump’s indefinite ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, That ban was the result of an Executive Order.’’

The minister hailed president Buhari for showing uncommon courage and leadership by unveiling Nigeria’s most potent tool against corruption and appealed to Nigerians to support the administration’s efforts to tackle the cankerworm of corruption.

Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 aims to, among others, restrict dealings in suspicious assets, subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes.  (The Sun)

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