The Federal Government says the Presidential Executive Order Number 6 of 2018 will have an immediate effect on 155 high profile corruption cases involving over N595 billion.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this at a media briefing in Lagos to drum support for the Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 5.
Mohammed, who described the Order as “the Administration’s most potent weapon against corruption to date,” noted that, expectedly, there had been pockets of opposition to it.
“Those opposed to it say it is unconstitutional, dictatorial and amounts to the usurpation of the powers of the legislature and the judiciary.
“The truth is that, having realized the potency of the Order in giving muscle to the fight against corruption the corrupt and their cohorts have become jittery.
“They have every reason to be. Henceforth, it won’t be business as usual.
“This is a huge amount by any standard. It is higher than the N500 billion allotted to the Administration’s Social Investment Programme in the 2018 budget.
“It is also higher than the N344 billion allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of roads nationwide in the 2018 budget,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the Order is not unconstitutional, dictatorial and ultra vires as claimed by the opposition.
“The President has the power, under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“This extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, all Laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 15(5) of the Constitution.
“Executive Order Number 6 is constitutional. Anyone who feels otherwise can seek redress in court,” he said.
Mohammed said Buhari was not the first democratically-elected President to issue Executive Order adding that former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo issued such Orders.
“In 1980, then President Shagari issued an Executive Order to modify the Public Order Act. This was unsuccessfully challenged in court by then Governors of Ogun and Borno States.
“In 1999, then President Obasanjo issued Executive Orders to abolish the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and to proclaim May 29 as Democracy Day.
“It is also important to state that past and present Presidents of the United States, after which our presidential system of government was fashioned, have been issuing Executive Orders since the time of the country’s first President, George Washington.”
He explained that the Order aimed to, among others, restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption.
The minister said it would 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
The minister reiterated the commitment of the Administration to winning the war against corruption and to ensuring that justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.
He appealed to all Nigerians to support the Administration’s efforts “to tackle the cankerworm of corruption to free national resources for national development”.