Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Prominent lawyers and human rights activists have condemned the ban placed by the Federal Government on some Nigerians from travelling outside the country describing it as a ‘coup against democracy’ and the nation’s Constitution.
Those who spoke with Daily Sun on the subject matter included Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who described the ban as high-handed, obnoxious, barbaric, pristine, capricious, whimsical and arbitrary as it violently erodes hallowed fundamental rights that are inalienable and God-given.
The human rights activist submitted that the action of the Federal government
“It seeks to strike terror and fear in the minds of Nigerians, especially the opposition and critical voices.
“It usurps the functions of a court of law and the NASS that has already promulgated the EFCC, ICPC and Money Laundering Acts, all of which allow for interim forfeiture and attachment of citizens’ money and properties, but with an ORDER of a court of law.
He further submitted that the Executive Order no 6 violates the doctrine of separation of powers ably propounded in 1778 (sections 4,5,6 of the 1999 Constitution ),by Baron de Montesquie, the rule of law as espoused by Prof. A,V Dicey and ALL tenets of constitutional democracy.
”That was what Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu said in her judgement. She made it clear that although Executive Order no 6 was not itself wrong, but that the Attorney General of the Federation must first obtain an order of court under section 174 of the Constitution, and that the enforcement of the order must never derogate from the rule of law, or derogate from the doctrine of separation of powers, or the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
‘No one has ever doubted the legality of Executive Orders, which are regularly issued by American presidents, wherefrom we borrowed our presidentialism, but same must conform with laid down procedure, due process citizens’ rights and rule of law. That is the way to go.”
Another human rights activist Dr. Kayode Ajulo said it was unconstitutional for a democratic government to restrain a citizen from his right to free movement without an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
” It is my opinion therefore that the present attempt by the Executive to circumscribe the rights to free movement by certain citizens of Nigeria must of necessity go the way of the Executive Order 06.
” This is in contradistinction to the right of the appropriate security agencies to effect an arrest of a citizen pursuant to a properly issued warrant of his arrest with all the attendant duty to establish that the citizen has either committed an offence either singly or in conjunction with other persons.
It is all the more frightening that there are no names mentioned and a blanket statement was made to cover all citizens having N50 million or above!
One cannot but wonder if this latest draconian Order is not targeted at perceived political enemies and members of the Opposition.
This Executive Order 06 is reminiscent of the infamous and draconian Decree No 4 of 1984 which was cruelly pursued and enforced by the incumbent President who was the military head of state at the time. Without a doubt the obnoxious decree was one of the sore points of that administration in which the basic human rights of Nigerians were thrown to the dogs.
I earnestly believe and hope that the Court will rise up yet again to take up its position as the bastion of democracy.
”The Government of President Mohammed Buhari is perpetrating a state of confusion and anomie by the recent statement purportedly to placing a travel ban on some unknown and imaginary persons in Nigeria.
It is important that the meaning and scope of the Executive Order 06 which allegedly gives fillip to the current Order against Traveling by some classes of Nigerians as enunciated by the Federal High Court, Abuja in its judgment of Friday 12th October, 2018 be set forth clearly.
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The Court held by the said judgement that although the Executive Order 06 seems somewhat to give the AGF the power to summarily seize or confiscate property but before the discretion can be exercised, the AGF must always first seek permission or approval of Court before any property can be seized or confiscated.
The ratio in the judgment is that the order to seize must at all times seek the permission or approval of court even by an ex-parte application and such application shall be subjected to the test of validity depending on the merit of individual case.
This rests the confusion that the executive order to seize property can be viewed or regarded as something giving direct power to the executive to confiscate property in the absence of court approval or sanction that ought to be sought and obtained at all times.
This invariably establishes the right of every affected litigant to subject every action against his interest purportedly done in pursuance to the Order to Judicial Review which invariably would be determined based on the merit of each case.