Ripples Nigeria - The travel ban allegedly placed on Governor Ayodele Fayose has taken a new turn as the Ekiti State helmsman has dragged the Buhari-led government before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Also petitioned are the National Assembly, Amnesty International, Embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Ripples Nigeria gathered that the petition was filed on his behalf on Tuesday by the state’s House of Assembly. The petitioners drew the commission’s attention to the alleged refusal of the Department of State Services (DSS) to obey a Federal High Court judgment, ordering it to pay N5 million damages on the illegal arrest and detention for 18 days of a member of the House, Afolabi Akanni.

The petition signed by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Kolawole Oluwawole petition reads; “We write to bring to your attention another impending infringement on the rights of the Governor of our State, Mr Ayodele Fayose and by extension the entire Ekiti by the Federal Government.

“A few weeks ago, our governor was reliably informed that President Mohammadu Buhari had directed that he should be banned from traveling outside Nigeria. This reliable information was to be confirmed through reports in two major national dailies on Sunday, May 29, 2016 titled; ‘2 govs under watch, face travel

“From our findings, one of the governors being referred to is our own governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose and we wish to state like we have always done that we, the members of Ekiti State House of Assembly are with the governor on everything that he does.

“Even ordinary Nigerians do not require clearance from the Department of State Services (DSS) or any security agency to travel outside Nigeria unless in compliance with court order, and as at today, there is no court order placing travel restriction on our governor, Ayodele Fayose. Issues concerning Governor Fayose cannot even be entertained in any court by virtue of the immunity he enjoys as provided in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“We however know as always that this latest plot is as a result of our governor’s critical stance on President Mohammadu Buhari’s government and its anti-people’s policies, and we make bold to say that no amount of intimidation, harassment and oppression will cowed the governor from exercising his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and to hold opinions as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

“We are aware that this is coming as a result of the failure of the President Buhari led APC government’s plot to use the DSS to coerce the House of Assembly members into the plot of removing the governor.

“We are also aware that plot to out-rightly take the governor ‘out of circulation’ cannot be ruled out as those advising President Buhari are said to be of the opinion that our governor has become a threat to his (Buhari) re-election bid and that everything must be done to ‘whip the governor to line’ before 2018.

“Going by the antecedents of the President Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria and the DSS under the President’s kinsman, Alhaji Lawal Daura, it is certain that there is nothing that cannot be attempted, no matter how unlawful.

“It should be recalled that this same DSS invaded the hallowed Chamber of the House of Assembly in our State, abducted our member, Hon Afolabi Akanni and kept him in detention for 18 days without access to anyone. Even when the court ordered that he should be released, the order was ignore. Up till today, no explanation was given for this arrest and detention.

“It should also be recalled that on April 20th, 2016, the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti, in Suit No. FHC/AD/CS/7/2016 ordered the DSS to pay a sum of N5 million to Hon Afolabi Akanni as damages for what the court termed unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional infringement of his fundamental rights. Up till today, that judgment has not been obeyed by the DSS.

“It is therefore on the premise of display of arrogance and contempt for the laws of the country by the DSS under President Buhari that we elected to bring this latest plot to place Governor Ayodele Fayose on travel ban to your attention.

“It is worrisome that the federal government will consider the idea of compelling a sitting governor in Nigeria that enjoys Constitutional Immunity like the President to obtain clearance from the Director General DSS, who is an appointee of the President before travelling out of Nigeria.

“This to us is an affront on the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) more so that States, as federating units in Nigeria are not under the Federal Government, which itself is also a State and not superior to other federating units.

“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,’ Section 39 (1) provides that; ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and information without interference,’ 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.

“By provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 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.

“Our 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, what happens to Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), which provided for freedom of expression and freedom to hold opinions?

“Most importantly, 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.

“However, it appears that the laws of Nigeria are not important to the President Mohammadu Buhari led government and it has become once again necessary that webring your attention to yet, another plot to subvert our rights as a State.

“We wish to recall that in 1984 when President Buhari was a military Head of State, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was prevented from travelling outside Nigeria for medical treatment, thereby leading to his (Awolowo) untimely death in 1987.

“The international passports of late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; late Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero and late Obi of Onitsha, Ofala Akulalia Alphonsus Ogugua were also seized and they were restricted to their palaces just because they travelled to Israel for business.

“We 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.”

The petition was received by NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, who assured that his commission will investigate the petition.

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