By Chesa Chesa
The Presidency on Sunday night insisted that no fewer than 50 Nigerians had to be barred from travelling abroad over corruption cases against them because they needed to be quickly tried and their cases concluded.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, made the explanation in a statement he issued in Abuja while noting that it was the first time in the history of independent Nigeria that any government would be taking such a key decision to fight corruption.
According to him: “The very essence of the order is to make for speedy trials and conclusion of graft cases. The order is not political 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.
The new measures put in place should compel everyone involved to make for a speedy conclusion of these cases. 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 chit. 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.”
Shehu further denied that the presidency issued any list of those affected by the Executive Order “and we are not doing so”.
He pointed out that “these cases 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 constitution.”