President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered full implementation of Executive Order 6, EO6, and with the implementation of the presidential directive, 50 high-profile persons have been placed on watch-list and restricted from travelling out of the country.
A statement issued on Saturday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, did not disclose the identities of the affected persons, but said Buhari’s directive was sequel to the judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of EO6.
This disclosure immediately triggered criticisms forcing the presidency to explain that the move was not a political witch-hunt as the Buhari administration inherited the trial of 50 high profile persons directly involved in corrupt practices, from the previous administration.
It added that that the Executive Order 6 came into force for speedy trial of corruption cases.
The earlier statement from Shehu stated that apart from the travel ban, a number of enforcement procedures were currently in place, including monitoring of the financial transactions of these persons of interest.
Below is the full statement released by the Presidency:
“Following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order 6 (EO6), President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.
“To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.
“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.
“It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter.
“The Buhari administration reassures all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
“Accordingly, this administration will uphold the rule of law in all its actions and the right of citizens would be protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption.”
But in a bid to clear the controversy triggered by this disclosure, Shehu said the following during an interview on Channels Television Sunday: “In the history of independent Nigeria, this is the first time any government is taking such a key decision to fight corruption.
“EO 6 is not only revolutionary to the efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption but a manifestation of systemic changes that are required to to make necessary adjustments as we carry on with the war against corruption.
“The very essence of the order is to make for speedy trials and conclusion of graft cases. The order is not politics and there is political gain behind its activation.
“These high profile cases we are talking about have been ongoing for between seven to 10 years with no end in sight. These case were mostly originated by administrations other than this one.
“What is clear is that the access to these resources by the suspects has enabled them to be in a composition to sometime compromise investigation, prosecution and trial.
“In most of the cases, the courts are held in a helpless position by legal acrobatics paid for from corrupt enrichment by the suspects.
“If it is your money, you have it back. If it belongs to the public, it goes back to the treasury. The question of the constitutionality of the restriction order is answered by the fact that a court of the land has given government a clean sheet.
“The Executive Order is legal and constitutional and therefore implementable. One of the cardinal objectives of the government under our constitution is to fight corruption.
“Fighting corruption is a responsibility and obligation upon the government. These case that are well known and to say this or that name is on it will open the door to further accusations, including trial by media.
“The Immigration Service and other security agencies have the mandate of the President to carry out enforcement and they will do so giving due respects to individual rights, in line with the the constitution,” the presidential spokesman said.