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Author Name: Mobolaji E. Aluko
Number of articles: 33
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Diaspora Petition to President Yar'Adua over Non-Renewal of Passport - Please sign
Author: Mobolaji E. Aluko | October 13, 2009

This letter is based on Barrister Femi Falana's own piece. I have ADAPTED it to include some Diaspora concerns. Please append your signature if you please for us in the Diaspora to show our displeasure. Nigerians inside Nigeria are also welcome to sign. All should merely send their name, city and country of residence to my address: . The signature drive closes on Wednesday midnight October 14, 2009, unless President Yar'Adua has reversed himself before then. Names of signatories will be updated periodically until then. I thank you. Bolaji Aluko View the original article on Sahara Reporters -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- October 12, 2009 Dear President Yar'Adua: Our attention has been drawn to incontrovertible evidence that the Federal Government - as initiated by its National Intellegence Agency and perfected by the Foreign Ministry - has instructed its missions abroad not to renew the passports of certain named citizens of Nigeria, namely Messrs Nuhu Ribadu and Nasiru El-Rufai, or grant any consular services to them. The decision is a tragic reminder of the dark days of brutal military dictatorship when the confiscation of the passports of political opponents, human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners was the order of the day. We are aware of only one occasion when the military government of Abacha frowned at the completed renewal of former Foreign Minister Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi's passport in Washington DC when an embassy official lost his posting and almost his job - but that was after the fact. Thus, to our knowledge, none of the military dictators ever directed Nigerian missions not to renew passports of their opponents BEFORE the fact. As also pointed out recently by Barrister Femi Falana, we wish to draw the Federal Government's attention to the case of Director, SSS v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 6 NWLR (PT 595) 314 where the Supreme Court held inter alia: âIt is not in dispute that the Constitution gives to the Nigerian citizen the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof. It also guarantees to the citizen the right not to be expelled from Nigeria nor be refused entry thereto or exit therefrom. Section 38(1) of the Constitution provides: â38(1). Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigerian and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefromâ It is matter of common knowledge that for a Nigeria to travel out of Nigeria to another country he must first hold or possess a valid passport issued by the Government of Nigeria. See: Section 4(1) of the Immigration Act, Cap 171 LFN 1990 and the definition of the word âpassportâ in Section 51 thereof. Without this document, he cannot leave Nigeria or be admitted to another country. It follows, therefore, that without a passport a citizen of Nigeria cannot exercise the right guaranteed him by the Constitution, of egress from Nigeria. Can it, then, be said that the right to hold a passport is not one guaranteed by the Constitution? That is a question that calls for determination in this appeal. If the view is correct - and I subscribe to it â that possession of a passport makes exit out of Nigeria possible, it follows that without it a citizen of Nigeria cannot enjoy the right of egress from Nigeria given him by section 38(1) of the Constitution. In my respectful view, therefore, to hold or possess a passport is ancillary to the right of egress from Nigeria given in Section 38(1). It is, as rightly held by the Court below, per Ayoola JCA (as he then was), concomitant to the right of egress from Nigeria. It is a concomitant right without which the right of egress from Nigeria becomes hollow or emptyâ. In the light of the foregoing, the decision of the Federal Government to effectively gratuitously and vindictively strip any Nigerians of citizenship by denying them of their constitutional right to hold Nigerian passports without due process it is in clear violation of the provision of Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ Rights. We shudder at the thought that those of us in the Diaspora who criticize the government of the day for any reason may suddenly become passport-less and hence be unable either to carry out our jobs that require international travel, visit our families back at home, or worse still be subject to deportation by our host governments. We shudder at the thought of our Nigerian compatriots inside the country who can become shut in and hence cannot travel to visit their families abroad or carry out official or professional duties simply because their passports have been pre-emptively seized due to non-renewal. Having regard to the fact that President Yarâadua is the current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the denial of passports and/or their renewal is a clear violation of Article 3 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Community Citizens which has been ratified by Nigeria. Under the circumstances, we urge the Federal Government to reverse the illegal and unconstitutional directive without any further delay, otherwise the decision will be challenged as a class-action suit. We also urge you to remind government officials to be mindful not to carry out unconstitutional and hence illegal orders under the guise of "orders from above/highest quarters." God does not commit atrocities, and they should be made aware that "The Devil made me do it" is no defence in law. We urgently await your favorable response. Please sign by simply sending your name, city and country of residence to Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD, Burtonsville, MD, USA

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