A pro-democracy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 6 2018 as outrageously unconstitutional, stressing that the order is targeted at opposition political office seekers.
Buhari had last week issued the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to among other things “restrict dealings 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 processes”.
Reacting, HURIWA stressed that the Buhari government cannot hide under the guise of declaration of state of emergency on corruption and deprive a citizen of their protected and guaranteed right, insisting that only the court has this kind of power and that the accused must be guaranteed fair hearing.
While indicating that it may institute a case at the Federal High Court to seek the nullification of the executive order, the group, in a statement by its national coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the media Affairs director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, asserted that the President cannot exercise the powers that is not donated to his office by the Constitution.
According to HURIWA, “Under the constitutional democracy in practice in Nigeria as clearly provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended, sections 4, 5 and 6 have clearly demarcated the constitutional powers of each arm of government with section 4 ceding the power of law making in the to the National Assembly and state Assemblies.
“Section 5 gives the President and the executive arm of government that he heads the power to implement policies and to exercise powers as specified in any legislation passed by the National Assembly and sign by him or if he withhold his assent the National Assembly can apply their power of veto to override the refusal of the executive head of government to sign the legislation and by the veto override the piece of legislation becomes a law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 6 gives the judicial powers of the federation on the Courts of competent jurisdiction.”
The statement maintained that the Executive Order was a total duplication of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Act which contains several provisions regarding temporary or permanent forfeiture and how the forfeited assets have to be administered transparently, adding that the power to grant such temporary or permanent forfeiture belongs to the Courts of competent jurisdiction because that is the forum for the interpretation of the laws.
The rights group continued, “The Executive head of government will be committing outrageous illegality if he is allowed to just wake up and sign what he calls executive orders which purports to seize the powers already domiciled in the Constitution or other pieces of legislation that were properly passed.
“The executive order is possibly a politically tainted move to crush opposition politicians, take over their assets over nebulous charges and make them financially impotent to confront the incumbent President in the next year’s general election in which the incumbent plans to run. Besides, the Constitution in section 36(5) clearly stated that a suspect or an accused person is totally innocent in the eyes of the law.”