Famous Nigerian Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw the travel ban on 50 prominent nigerians, describing it as an ingenious design to expose his administration to ridicule.
Mr. Falana said this in a statement on Sunday, in which he faulted the travel ban placed on about 50 Nigerians by the Federal Government which claimed to be fully implementing the Executive Order 6 recently issued by President Buhari.
Contrary to claims by Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, who had said the travel ban followed last week’s judgment of the Federal High Court validating the Presidential Executive Order 6 which provides for interim seizure of assets connected with criminal investigations or ongoing trial to prevent the said assets from being dissipated, Falana argued that the executive order could not be the basis for preventing suspects from travelling.
He 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.
Falana 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 added, “Notwithstanding such judicial indictment of politically exposed persons seeking medical treatment during trial the law has not authorised the Executive to restrict the movement of criminal suspects.
“In February 2009, the Federal Government regime directed all Nigerian embassies and high commissions not to renew the passports of Messrs Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El Rufai (now Kaduna state governor) on account of intra class feud. Both of them were then living in exile.
“But as soon as the attention of former President Umoru Yaradua was drawn to the case of the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (supra) he ensured that the illegal directive was immediately withdrawn.”