Femi Fani-Kayode has said he would not feel the adverse impact of the travel ban imposed on some Nigerians by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ban was announced on Sunday, amidst raging controversy over whether the president has the powers to issue such order. The administration did not say it procured court order before implementing the ban.
The government said 50 politically exposed persons were affected by the ban, but did not name them.
Mr Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister and strong critic of the Buhari administration, said the ban would not affect him because he has not been outside the country for the past 10 years, but pities only those who have medical challenges to treat abroad.
“I have not left Nigeria since 2008 because my passport has been with the EFCC and the courts for the last 10 years and they have refused to give it to me and allow me to travel,” Mr Fani-Kayode said in an email statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES. “Those on the travel-ban list that need to travel abroad for medical attention or to see their loved ones are the ones I feel sorry for.”
The former minister, who left office in 2007 after serving President Olusegun Obasanjo in several capacities, has spent the last decade fighting corruption charges brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He was discharged and acquitted on the initial set of corruption charges in 2015, after several years of litigation.
The EFCC, however, filed new charges of graft against him, bordering largely on claims that he mismanaged campaign finance funds during the failed reelection bid of President Goodluck Jonathan. He dismissed the charges as a vindictive ploy to silence him for his fierce stance against Mr Buhari’s government, a claim the administration denied.
More importantly, Mr Fani-Kayode said he remained indifferent to the travel ban because he has to remain in Nigeria to help liberate the citizens from Mr Buhari’s ruthless and divisive government.
“For me, travel ban or no travel ban, I have no intention of leaving Nigeria anytime soon because I am one of those that will be on the forefront in the struggle to liberate our country and ensure that we get Buhari out of power in the next few months,” he said. “By God’s grace in February we will flush him and his incompetent, fascistic, mendacious, divisive, corrupt, abusive, vicious and genocidal government down the toilet and send them back to hell where they belong.”
Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson, announced imposition of the ban on Saturday, saying it followed a court ruling affirming the constitutionality of an executive order the president issued in July. But while the presiding judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, validated the core principles of the executive order — preventing suspicious assets from being eroded — she warned the administration against implementing it without a court order.
The move has been widely criticised by opposition and non-partisan groups alike, with all of them charging that the president’s action could pose a grim danger to fundamental rights of citizens.