Targets N595bn from 155 high profile corruption cases
The federal government has defended the constitutionality of the Executive Order 6, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 5, saying the president has the power, under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, and 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.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this to journalists in Lagos last Sunday, said the order would affect 155
high profile corruption cases with the aggregate value of N595,409,838, 452.25, which he said was higher than the N500 billion allotted to the administrationâ€™s Social Investment Programme and the N344 billion allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of roads nationwide in the 2018 budget.
Mohammed further argued that President Buhari was not the first democratically-elected president to issue Executive Order, adding that former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo issued Executive Orders. According to him, in 1980, President Shagari issued an Executive Order to modify the Public Order Act, stressing that Shagariâ€™s action was unsuccessfully challenged in the court by the governors of Ogun and Borno States.
Mohammed added that in 1999, the then President Obasanjo issued Executive Orders to abolish the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and to proclaim May 29 as Democracy Day.
Mohammed added that when the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, acted as President, he also issued Executive Orders for the Ease of Doing Business and for the expeditious issuance of international passports in all the Nigerian embassies, adding that no one questioned the constitutionality of such orders.
He said the Executive Order 6 of 2018 was aimed at restricting â€œdealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities, which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processesâ€.
â€œThis is the administrationâ€™s most potent weapon against corruption to date! Expectedly, there have been pockets of opposition to this Executive Order. Those opposed to it say it is unconstitutional, dictatorial and amounts to the usurpation of the powers of the legislature and the
judiciary,â€ Mohammed said.
â€œThe truth is that, having realised the potency of the Order in giving muscle to the fight against corruption – which by the way is one of the three cardinal programmes of our administration â€“ the corrupt and their cohorts have become jittery. They have every reasonto be. Henceforth, it wonâ€™t be business as usual,â€ he added.
The minister stated that the current administration considers the war against corruption a must-win for Nigeria, adding that in the words of the President Buhari, â€œif Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner or later kill Nigeria.â€.
â€œThat is why the President has declared a national emergency on corruption,â€ he added. â€œFor those who claim that the Executive Order Number 6 is dictatorial, it is clear they have not even read it. Section. 3 (i) of the Order, which states that any person who alleges that his rights have been violated, 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,â€ Mohammed said.
He stated that past and present Presidents of the United States, after which Nigeriaâ€™s presidential system of government was fashioned, have been issuing Executive Orders since the time of the countryâ€™s first President, George Washington.
Referring to Wikipedia, Mohammed insisted that American presidents have used Executive Orders to direct a range of activities, including putting
Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II; prohibiting racial discrimination in housing; pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders; giving federal workers the right to bargain collectively; keeping the federal workplace drug free; and sending US troops to Bosnia.
He added that recently, the US Supreme Court upheld, 5-4, President Trumpâ€™s indefinite ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, adding that the ban was the result of an Executive Order.