While Section 41 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees every Nigerian the freedom of movement; section 41 (2) (a) however provides a caveat to the effect that the Federal Government may stop anyone from leaving Nigeria if he had committed a crime or is REASONABLY SUSPECTED to have committed a crime.
On the other hand, Section 36 (5) of the same constitution provides for the presumption of innocence for anyone CHARGED with any criminal offence.
Now, if we juxtapose the above cited constitutional provisions vis-à-vis the present ban by the Federal Government; two salient questions need be answered viz;
Have those Nigerians been indicted for any criminal offence to warrant the issuance of that order? The wording of the “Executive Order” has it that the individuals involved are being “INVESTIGATED”.
In my view, investigating someone does not pass the “REASONABILITY TEST” as as required by the constitution as to warrant the issuance of that order. Merely investigating a person is and cannot be enough ground to infringe on his/her constitutional fundamental human rights. After all, he is deemed innocent until proven otherwise
What could be done in the light of the subsisting court judgment?
The persons involved/affected should challenge the judgment on appeal. I’m convinced the order would be vacated on appeal
Wahab Shittu, Senior Law Lecturer, University of Lagos:
The executive order made by the president which the court has now affirmed is now part of our law. To the extent that the court has affirmed executive order 6 as part of our law, what the president is doing, is consistent with the rule of law. It would have been different if the order was declared unconstitutional, then we would have said that what the president is doing now is in violation of the law. But the Executive order having been upheld by the court, the president is right to proceed under that order to make this travel ban. Once the president is operating under executive order 6, nobody can accuse the president of violating the rule of law.
Monday Ubani, ex- 2nd Vice President, NBA:
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I know that the issue of restriction of an individual’s movement is a constitutional issue. Unless there is a validly made order by the court, I don’t think the president has the power to restrict the movement of an individual. I don’t think the president’s executive order entails restriction movement of individuals. Anyone who feels the president has by this latest travel ban has infringed on his or her right to movement, has the right to approach the court.
I must add that it is not right for the president to create a state of fear with this travel ban. We are in a democracy, we don’t want a situation where people will be persecuted and not properly prosecuted through the law court. Those who have stolen the nations money should be duly and lawfully prosecuted. I am afraid to say that I don’t believe the president executive has gotten, has also extended his power to restrict people movement.
Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice:
I think the federal government is over reaching its constitutional powers by placing that travel ban. The right to travel is a fundamental right and the constitution has listed instances where that right can be limited or restricted.
The making of executive order is not among those instances that gives government right to restrict people’s movement.
I think the federal government has overreached what the judgment it is claiming to have on that executive order. The government has over extended that judgment. That judgment certainly does not give FG power to violate the right of any individual. This is just a power grab. Imagine sought of situations can could happen if government begins to make executive orders like this. The danger is so horrendous and I don’t think an court will uphold this.