From party offices and the media, the battle to reverse Executive Order 6 under which 50 prominent Nigerians have been banned from travelling has moved to the Court of Appeal.
Two lawyers yesterday filed an appeal seeking to set aside Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu’s October 11 judgement validating the Order.
They are asking the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court upholding the constitutionality of the Presidential Order..
But the President’s camp scoffed at the moves against the Order, saying corruption was fighting back.
The Order empowers the Federal Government to take steps, in liaison with investigative agencies, to temporarily seize property linked with corruption, pending investigation and conclusion of trial to prevent the dissipation of such assets.
Justice Ojukwu held that it was within the powers of the President, as granted by the Constitution, to issue Executive Orders for the execution of Executive policies, as long as such orders do not offend the doctrine of separation of powers.
In a notice of appeal, the plaintiffs in the suit, Kenneth Udeze and Ikenga Ugochinyere, faulted the decision.
They also filed a motion of injunction pending appeal, with which they seek to restrain the President and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or their agents from giving effect to Executive Order No 6, pending the determination of the appeal.
In the notice of appeal, they argued that Justice Ojukwu erred in law and thereby caused a miscarriage of justice when she declared that the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 did not violate the rights of citizens to own property and that the Judge erred in law also when she unilaterally varied and modified the express terms of Executive Order No. 6 by issuing judicial caution, that the powers of the AGF must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, instead of nullifying the Executive Order.
They argued that the lower court does not have the powers to issue advisory opinion on what the law ought to be as in the present circumstances and added that the Executive Order 6 violates the doctrine of separation of powers and all tenets of the constitutional democracy.
The appellants noted that the trial Judge shut her eyes against the materials placed before the court and deliberately failed and/or refused to make specific findings of fact on the issue they submitted before the court, in view of the fact that, “none of the persons listed at the First Schedule of the said Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 has been found guilty as charged, as their respective trials are still ongoing in various courts in Nigeria”.
Some activists are hailing the Order. They said the implementation of the Order would deal a fatal blow to corruption.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) and a human rights activist, Dele Igbinedion, made the claims in separate statements.
CACOL praised President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Executive Order 6, Igbinedion said those without skeletons in their cupboards should have nothing to worry about.
CACOL, in a statement by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said tackling corruption required drastic measures.
“When we view the precarious situation into which corruption has thrown this nation and its people, we will better appreciate why drastic and precarious situation calls for a measure of drastic steps/ actions,” it said.
The group faulted those criticising the Federal Government for the order, saying that most democratic countries of the world have such provisions in their statute books.
CACOL said pending when all the laws needed to fight corruption are enacted and institutions strengthened, the President should be encouraged to deploy his powers such as the Executive Order 6.
“We commend the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari for taking advantage of such provisions and enjoin him to judiciously and expeditiously utilise same in a manner that is completely devoid of witch-hunting or any form of undue flagellations while, constantly, holding our public office holders to account, irrespective of whose ox is gored,” CACOL said.
Igbinedion said the President’s action was “courageous, commendable and salutary”.
To him, the President has dealt a fatal blow to corruption, corrupt people, corrupt tendencies and corrupt enrichment from political office.
“It has been suggested that the Order 06 is unconstitutional, restrictive of human liberty and ultimately illegal. But all that posturing and postulation has been wiped away, broken-hearted, by the recent decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“It is now accepted, subject to any contrary decision of a higher court, that the Presidential Executive Order 06 is valid, constitutional, legal and applaudable. It is also enforceable pronto, and enforce it, the President has ordered. Amen.
“Some have also claimed that the Order is targeted at political opponents, said the activist, who added that those who embrace this “position fail to explain how their argument stands up in the presence of apolitical persons and even members of the President’s political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the list”.
“But whatever the argument for or against, the Presidential Executive Order does not and cannot affect ordinary, hardworking Nigerians. So, fear not, my friends. For too long have corrupt people and their corruption held Nigeria and Nigerians by the jugular. It is now uhuru!
“Only corrupt former and present political office holders need to tremble in fear over Order 06. Anyone who is not corrupt should walk tall, happy and rejoice. Indeed, a Daniel is come to judgment,” Igbinedion said.
The Buhari Campaign Orgainsation (BCO) also described as absurd the barrage of criticisms trailing the travel ban on 50 prominent citizens facing corruption charges.
The BCO described the criticisms as “a clear case of corruption fighting back.”
The group noted that if the President’s directive on the full implementation of the Executive Order 6 would send shivers down the spines of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other opposition camps to the extent of generating negative reactions from them, then they truly have skeletons in their cupboards.
In a statement by its Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO said: “This is a clear case of corruption fighting back. No wonder Nigeria has not been progressing because a good chunk of its people encourage corruption.
“We cannot continue living with corruption because it denied Nigeria development, respect and promoted insecurity, poverty, and even disunity among its citizens. President Buhari should be given due regards rather than degradation for taking such a decisive action.
“The origin of this kind of uproar and criticisms is quite known. Nigerians had been in the dark for so long that whenever any leader tries to stop the criminality in high places committed against them, the perpetrators of the act would weave all sort of sentiments to blindfold them the more.
“The government placed a travel ban on 50 persons who directly or indirectly subjected Nigerians to unemployment and deprived them of their daily source of livelihood and the opposition with their shrill voices are condemning a president who is true to his words on tackling corruption.
“Even though some who are on the list are not members of the opposition, as long as it is Buhari, he hasn’t done any good. Unfortunately for them, they will have to put up with this for another four years because right now the war on corruption has taken centre stage.”
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