*Denies releasing list in circulation
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency at the weekend said it was not taken aback by scathing criticism of the travel ban placed on 50 Nigerians by the federal government in commencement of the implementation of the Executive Order 6.
The presidency has however denied releasing the list in circulation.
The order authorises the federal government to seize assets believed to have been illegally acquired while the suspects are facing trials in various courts.
Last Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to commence full implementation of the order.
The presidential spokesman also stated that accordingly, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and other security agencies had placed no fewer than 50 Nigerians allegedly culpable under watch-list and consequently restricted them from embarking on any trip out of the country.
However, the president has come under severe criticisms from various Nigerians who described the travel ban as illegal, more so that most of them are already facing trials and granted bail.
But a top presidential source who did not want to be named told THISDAY that such criticisms were not unexpected, because individuals affected by such travel ban are highly influential people, submitting that it is corruption fighting back.
“It is expected. They are powerful people. It is corruption fighting back,” he said.
When told that the criticisms were not even coming from those directly affected by the ban, he said there was a relationship between the critics and the suspects, describing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a party laden with corruption while the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fighting the corruption.
He said: “They are inter-connected. The beneficiaries are plenty. PDP is a party of corruption. APC is fighting the corruption.”
When told the argument of critics that the government’s decision amounts to usurping the power of the judiciary which they said had the exclusive power to stop individuals from traveling abroad, and that most of the suspects have been traveling and returning to the country without constituting any risk, the presidential source queried why they keep frustrating their cases by constantly securing adjournments for up to 15 years.
“On a personal note, if you know that it is your money, why don’t you sit down and face your trials? If you are freed, you will enjoy your money. Because it is not your money, that is why you can adjourn the case for 15 years,” he added.
Asked why the names of dead people appeared on the list, the source was swift to disown the list in circulation, saying the presidency never released any list as he queried where such list emanated from.
“I don’t know where the list came from. They should trace the list to its source. Where did they get the list from?” He queried.
When asked then why they opted to keep the list from the public, he said such a question should be directed to the AGF, saying he would like to ask the AGF such question.
“That should be subject to the AGF. If l see him too, I will ask him,” he said.