Alleged travel ban on Fayose: NHRC to start probe

The National Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that it would investigate the travel ban allegedly placed on Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and another unnamed governor from the South-South geo-political zone by the Federal Government.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe, gave this assurance while receiving members of the delegation of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, who submitted a petition on the allegation to him at his office in Abuja on Tuesday.

Angwe said the commission “will not hesitate to investigate the complaint since it borders on the enforcement of the fundamental human rights”.

A member of the lawmakers’ delegation, Mr. Samuel Omotoso, who is also the Chairman House Committee on Health, while submitting the petition to the commission on Tuesday, said there was “another impending infringement” on the fundamental rights of Fayose and by Ekiti State by the Federal Government.

Others in the delegation to the NHRC were the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Segun Adewumi; and Chairman House Committee on Information, Mr. Gboyega Aribisogan.

In the petition, a copy of which was sent to the National Assembly, Amnesty International, the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom, the Ekiti State House of Assembly had complained of alleged plot by the Federal Government to prevent Governor Fayose from traveling outside Nigeria without getting clearance from the Department of State Service.

The petitioner also complained of alleged  refusal of the DSS to obey a Federal High Court’s judgment, ordering the agency to pay N5m damages for the illegal arrest and detention for 18 days of a member of the House of Assembly, Afolabi Akanni.

The petition was signed by the Speaker, Mr. Kolawole Oluwawole.

The petition read in part, “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 Muhammadu 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; ‘Two 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 or any security agency to travel outside Nigeria unless in compliance with court order, and as of 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 Muhammadu 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.”