FORMER Vice President and presidential candidate of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has warned that the Executive Order 6 (EO6) under which the President Muhammadu Buhari has placed 50 high profile Nigerians under watch and restricted their movement, is a throwback to Decree 2 of 1984.
The presidency had on Saturday announced that following the court validation of EO6, at least 50 high profile Nigerians have been placed under a watchlist as President Buhari mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to implement the order in full.
According to a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed the individuals directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.
The statement did not, however, name the individuals on the watch list.
But in a reaction made available to the media in Abuja on Sunday, the PDP presidential flag bearer said: “It is a throwback to Buhari’s evil Decree Number Two of 1984 which criminalised truth-telling if it did not please Buhari, proving that dictators can grow old, but they can’t grow into democrats.”
The statement which emanated from his media office in Abuja observed that the crime of the victims is that they are suspected of having property overseas and are involved in tax dodging or other alleged financial infractions.
Atiku said while the nation must unequivocally abhor any act of criminality, financially or otherwise, the rule of law must be the guide at all times or society will descend to anarchy.
The statement added: “Thus, we find it most undemocratic that in a nation governed by the rule of law, a President who swore an oath to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does this.
“If past events are to be the judge, these 50 individuals will conveniently be critics and opponents of the Buhari administration.
“This is nothing short of intimidation ahead of the 2019 elections.
“This is what the Buhari administration did in Osun where they froze the accounts of the Adeleke family and then illegally and clandestinely paid ₦16.7 billion to the Osun state government to facilitate daylight electoral robbery.
“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian citizen freedom of movement and freedom of association. This Constitutional right cannot be taken away except by a court order.
“If the Buhari administration wants to curtail the rights of Nigerians, then they must go to court and obtain a court order. Anything short of this is unconstitutional and extrajudicial.
“This sudden dictatorial act brings to mind President Buhari’s comments for which he was condemned by the international community and by the generality of Nigerians.
“While delivering an address at the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association on August 26, 2018, President Buhari has said ‘where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society.’
“That was not only a faulty interpretation of the constitution, the statement also betrays the dictatorial and authoritarian mindset of President Buhari because only he gets to decide who and what threatens national security.”
The presidential hopeful further observed that under the Buhari administration, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented capital flight out of the nation to the extent that the country is not even listed amongst the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa in the latest ranking by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The statement further said: “It is salient to note that we were number one under the last Peoples Democratic Party administration.
“Funny enough, the Buhari administration was unable to stop Abdulrasheed Maina, their financier, from leaving the country after he was illegally brought back by them and reinstated to the federal service with double promotion.
“It is precisely this type of draconian orders that have chased investors away from Nigeria and it is precisely why Nigerians will chase this recession-friendly government away from power on February 16, 2019, so we can begin the job of Getting Nigeria Working Again.”