President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, signed into law an Executive Order targeting the assets of no fewer than 11 former governors, ministers and other politically exposed persons, who served in the country between 1999 and 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed the Executive Order to improve his administration’s fight against corruption.
With the coming into effect of the Executive Order Number 6, Buhari hopes to swoop on the assets said to have been corruptly acquired at home and abroad by top government officials directly and through their fronts in and outside government over the years.
A copy of the Executive Order exclusively obtained by our correspondent shows that no fewer than 10 former governors currently under trial for various graft-related offences are listed by the Federal Government as targets for asset seizure pending the conclusion of their trials. Also listed as targets for the seizure of their assets are former ministers and elements, who purportedly aided and abetted the laundering of government funds for top politicians in the country.
The list shows that a total of 155 Politically Exposed Persons, businessmen, top civil servants and private individuals and companies that were used to launder funds are also targets under the new order, whose date of take off was not indicated. Among those whose assets are being targeted for seizure by the Federal Government are: Gabriel Suswam, former Governor of Benue State, Danjuma Goje, former Governor of Gombe, Alao-Akala, former Governor of Oyo State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, former Governor of Niger State, Sule Lamido, former Governor of Jigawa State and Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Ogun State.
Others targeted by the new order are: Attahiru Bafarawa, former Governor of Sokoto State, Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State, Saminu Turaki, former Governor of Jigawa, and Chimaroke Nnamani, former Governor of Enugu and Fintri Amadu, former Governor of Adamawa. The order also hopes to pin down the assets of former ministers under the Goodluck Jonathan and Obasanjo administration now standing trial for various corruption cases.
Among this category are: Adeseye Ogunleye, Femi Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman, Bashir Yuguda, Abba Moro and Senator Bala Mohammed, who is the immediate past Minister of the FCT and Oloye Jumuoke Akinjide. Beyond them are top military officers now standing trial for allegedly making away with huge public funds meant for the procurement of military equipment to confront terrorism in the Northeast.
They include Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, the immediate National Security Adviser, now standing trial for alleged abuse of office and money laundering, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, former Chief of the Air Staff, Emmanuel Atewe, a former Presidential Guards Commander and Air Marshal Amosu Nunayo.
Also to be affected by the new order are top lawyers and judges also standing trial for alleged graft. In this category are: Riky Tarfa, Mohammed Belgore and Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia. The list also includes additional 135 persons in all sectors of the economy, who are currently being tried for alleged corruption.
The order entitled: Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 On the Preservation of Suspicious Assets Connected with Corruption and other Relevant Offences, also listed 20 government agencies as the institutions to be used for the execution of the order.
The bill states: “Whereas it is the responsibility of the Federal Government of Nigeria to protect the resources of Nigeria from all forms of corruption; “Whereas corruption constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the well-being, national security and stability of the country’s political and economic systems, as well as its continuous existence; and must be effectively addressed; “By the powers vested in me under 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 (including but not limited to Section 15(5) of the Constitution) to, abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, it is the duty of any responsible government to restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to corruption related investigation or inquiries in order to preserve same in accordance with the rule of law and to guarantee and safeguard the fundamental human rights; “Now therefore, I, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in exercise of the powers conferred on me hereby declare as follows: Section 1. (a) of the order says, “Without prejudice to any laws or existing suits or any other rights arising out of or in respect thereof, all Assets of any Nigerian citizen within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, or within the possession or control of any person known to be a current or former government official, a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, any politically exposed person or any person who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in Corrupt Practices and Other Relevant Offences are forthwith to be protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful or statutory means, including seeking the appropriate Order(s) of Court where necessary, and shall not be transferred, withdrawn or dealt with in any way until the final determination by a court of competent jurisdiction of any corruption related matter against such a person.
This provision shall, in particular, apply to those connected with persons listed in the First Schedule to this Order, (or any such list as may be issued by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice).
(b) Where a government official or a person acting for and on behalf of such an official, directly or indirectly, engages in corrupt practices such as misappropriation of state assets for personal gain, receives any form of bribe or engages in corrupt practices related to the performance of his/her duties or the award or execution of government contract; or transfers, launders or facilitates the transfer or laundering of proceeds of illicit activities, such official, in addition to forfeiting the proceeds in accordance with the relevant laws, shall forthwith be subject to the disciplinary procedure in accordance with the Public Service Rules and investigation by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
(c) (i) Subject to Section 174 of the Constitution, the Attorney General of the Federation shall have power to coordinate the implementation of this order and to enlist the support of any Enforcement Authority particularly those listed in Second Schedule to this order, or any other person or entity as may be required or permitted by applicable law in order to give effect to this Executive Order.
(ii) The Attorney-General shall from time to time publish a list of all assets protected pursuant to this order. (iii) The authority of the Attorney General of the Federation to preserve Assets pursuant to this Order shall extend to any Person who is under investigation in accordance with applicable law in connection with having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or howsoever in support of any corrupt practices or other relevant offences by any person whose assets are protected pursuant to this order; or any entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, any corrupt practices or other relevant offences, provided however, that the Attorney-General shall at all times in this connection, employ all available lawful or statutory means, including seeking the appropriate Order(s) of Court where necessary, and ensure that Assets shall not be transferred, withdrawn or dealt with in any way until the final determination by a court of competent jurisdiction of any corruption related matter against such a person.
(iv) Where the Attorney-General has reasonable cause to believe that any funds or assets within Nigeria is connected with Corruption, the Attorney-General may, subject to his powers under Section 174 of the Constitution and other laws enabling him in that regard, approach the Court for an Order blocking or freezing or confiscating such funds or assets pending the conclusion of an investigation or legal action. (d) Enforcement Authorities shall upon request communicate to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice information arising from their investigation or enquiry on any person.
(Nigerian or non-Nigerian), whether resident in Nigeria or not, determined by such Enforcement Authority to have directly or indirectly engaged in or involved in Corruption within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Attorney General shall immediately commence or direct the commencement of appropriate process(es) either administratively or judicially as may be necessary subject to existing applicable law.
Section. 2. (a) Any Person who in circumvention of this Executive Order attempts to or in fact: (i) interferes with the free exercise of the authorities of the Office of the President, (ii) destroys evidence, (iii) corrupts witnesses through cash/kind inducements, and (iv) generally perverts the course of justice shall be prosecuted in line with the provision of any Law(s) governing unlawful acts.
Section. 3. (i) Any Person who alleges that his rights have been, 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. Section. 4.
All Enforcement Authorities are hereby directed to diligently and rigorously collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Justice in implementing this Order to ensure the preservation of suspicious assets and prevent their dissipation or removal from the jurisdiction of Nigerian courts, in order to facilitate, support and enable the expeditious and accelerated prosecution of the alleged Corrupt Practices, serious or complex corruption, and Other Relevant Offences.
Heads of Enforcement Authorities shall take personal responsibility and be subject to appropriate sanctions for any failure to comply with this Order.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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