The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has said that contrary to claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Nigerian constitution does not authorize the President’s to embark on private trips with the presidential jet.
Femi Falana was reacting to use of one of the jets in the presidential fleet by President Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, for a trip to Bauchi State on Thursday 9th January, 2020.
The young lady, who holds a degree in Photography from Ravensbourne University, London, had flown into Bauchi to photograph a Durbar by Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu, that fateful day.
The incident, which has since left many Nigerians especially social media users enraged, has remained a contemporary issue with some defending and condemning the act.
On his on view on Sunday 12th January, 2020 about the incident, Falana said; it was not allowed under Nigerian law for the president’s children to fly around in a presidential jet while on private trips.
According to the respected lawyer, Shehu’s defense runs contrary to the dictates of Nigeria’s constitution and therefore cannot stand.
He said, “On the 27th October, 2016, the Presidency confirmed newspaper reports of the planned sale of two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7x executive jet and Hawker 4000.
In a press statement issued by the Presidency through the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Nigerians were informed that President Buhari had directed that the aircraft in the presidential air fleet be reduced to cut down on waste.
Garba Shehu reminded Nigerians that President Buhari was elected in the year 2015 on a commitment to crack down on the country’s systemic corruption, hence downsizing the outlandish presidential fleet had been amongst his campaign pledges.
Buhari’s directive on the use of the presidential fleet which was accepted by the Federal Government was popularly acclaimed by Nigerians.
But, on 10th January, 2020, one of the President’s daughter was reported to have travelled from Abuja to Bauchi in a presidential jet for a private engagement in utter breach of the official policy of the Federal Government.
Instead of making an apology for the breach of the official policy, the President has defended the use of the presidential jet for the private visit of a member of the first family.
The Presidency is wrong as it is at variance with the official policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In other words, the official policy does not authorize the President’s Children to use the presidential jets for private social functions.
In fact, there is no instance whatsoever for such privatization of the presidency of Nigeria. Making use of the aircraft in the presidential fleet by members of the first family to attend their private engagements is not backed by any extant law or official policy. In view of the foregoing, we beckon on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevent members of his family from using any of the aircraft in the presidential fleet.