Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has dared the Federal Government to carry out its alleged plot of preventing him from traveling outside the country. Mr. Fayose, who was reacting to media reports that one governor from the Southwest and another from the Southsouth had been placed on travel restriction on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, said whenever he wished to travel out of the country, he will do so in broad daylight. According to the Ekiti Governor’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, “under the federal system of government, state governors are not appendages of the President and as a leading opposition figure in Nigeria, he (Fayose) cannot be cowed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his agents”.
Mr. Olayinka, who addressed a press conference in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital Monday alongside the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Idowu Adelusi said just as the president and the Department of State Services, DSS, were “disgraced” during the invasion of the State House of Assembly some few months ago, they will be put to shame once more over their latest plan to prevent Fayose from traveling abroad whenever the need arises. He said; “I am not surprised or disappointed by this latest plot of the Buhari’s government because the President Buhari that we know is a man without any atom of respect for the rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and this he demonstrated as a military dictator and now demonstrating as a democratically elected president”.
The media aide said he was however amazed that “this dangerous dimension of compelling a sitting governor that enjoys Constitutional Immunity like the President to obtain clearance from the Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS) before travelling out of Nigeria can ever be contemplated”.
Olayinka said President Buhari and his agents should be mindful of the fact that under a federal system of government, the states and national government both enjoy some autonomy, with sovereign power formally divided between the national government and the States such that each State retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. He recalled that “Few days ago, when Governor Ayodele Fayose was reliably informed that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that he should be banned from traveling outside Nigeria, he simply took the information as mere rumour, concluding that disrespect for the constitution of Nigeria and Buhari’s dictatorship would not be extended to the most ridiculous level of preventing a governor elected just as the president from traveling out of the country.
“The thinking of Governor Fayose was that even though the Buhari’s presidency was capable of even attempting to prevent those opposed to the President from breathing the air, it must still be sane enough to be conscious of the consequences of placing any Nigerian under travel ban without an order of the court, not to talk of a sitting governor that enjoys constitutional immunity like the President.
“However, when we read the story titled; “2 govs under watch, face travel ban” published on Sunday by two major national dailies, we have no option than to once again alert the public on President Buhari’s new dictatorial plot to infringe on the constitutional rights of Governor Fayose just because of his critical position on the President’s dictatorial tendencies.
“The question is; if Governor Fayose has become a threat to the security of Nigeria just because he criticises President Buhari and says the truth about his mis-governance of the country, is this not a confirmation that the President hates dissenting views?
“Section 35 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that; “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty,” while Section 41 (1) provides that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.”
“Article 13 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory provides that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the border of each State’ while Article 13 (2) provides that ‘Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country,’ ditto Article 12 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“President Buhari and his agents should also be mindful of the fact that under a federal system of government, the states and national government both enjoy some autonomy, with sovereign power formally divided between the national government and the States such that each State retains some degree of control over its internal affairs.
“Therefore, the President of Nigeria cannot lord himself over any State governor and President Buhari and his agents should accept this basic reality and stop behaving as if they own Nigeria in totality.
“President Buhari and his agents, especially his kinsman; Alhaji Lawal Daura of the DSS need to purge themselves of this blood of dictatorship running in their veins and be guided by the Constitution of Nigeria.
“Even ordinary Nigerians do not require clearance from the DSS or any security agency to travel outside Nigeria unless travel restriction is placed by an order of the court, not to talk of State Governors that enjoy immunity just like the President and are not under the control of the President.
“The president and his agents should know that this is not 1984 when General Buhari, as a military dictator prevented late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from travelling outside Nigeria for medical treatment, thereby leading to his (Awolowo) untimely death in 1987!
“They should also be reminded that the same way Buhari humiliated the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; late Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero and late Obi of Onitsha, Ofala Akulalia Alphonsus Ogugua in 1984 by seizing their passports and restricting them to their palaces just because they travelled to Israel for business, he cannot restrict State governors from travelling outside Nigeria under whatever guise.
“I therefore wish to state on behalf of Governor Ayodele Fayose that as an opposition figure, he cannot be cowed by this pettiness from the presidency. Governor Fayose, by this press conference is daring President Buhari and his anti-democratic agents to carry out this evil and shameful plot and let us all see how far it will take them.
“Anytime Governor Fayose wishes to travel out of Nigeria, he will do so in the full glare of the public and we await how he will be prevented from exercising his rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“We also wish to inform the President and his DSS men that as they were disgraced when they invaded Ekiti State House of Assembly, arresting members of the House indiscriminately, they will be put to shame this time too.
“Also, the National Assembly is being alerted of this new threat to the Constitution of Nigeria by those who swore to protect it. Members of the National Assembly should by now begin to imagine what will be their fate if attempt is now being made to place travel restriction on State Governors.
“It is our considered view that President Buhari should rather concern himself with the growing insecurity in the country and charge the security agencies, especially the DSS to perform their functions as enshrined in the constitution instead of running after petty issues.
“The President should focus his attention on the economy of Nigeria that is almost collapsing and stop using his position to oppress other Nigerians. He should know that Nigerians are only interested in having food on their tables, not the number of people their President hounds into detention or oppress with his powers”.