The Citadel Of Corruption Is In NASS, Says Robert Clarke

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, has decried the rate of corruption in Nigeria, saying that the menace is more rampant in the National Assembly.

He said this on Sunday, during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

“The citadel of corruption today is in the National Assembly and State Assemblies and in the Executive arm of government,” he said.

Clarke’s comments follow the implementation of the Executive Order (6) signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevent government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.

The order seeks to restrain owners of assets under investigation from carrying out any further transaction on such assets.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the 50 prominent personalities (whose names were not stated) had been placed on a watch-list and are, therefore, restricted from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.

Although the lawyer praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the ongoing war against corruption, he faulted the Federal Government for the travel ban, saying that only a court of competent jurisdiction can restrict one who is on trial from travelling out of the country.

He said, “You cannot just say that somebody cannot travel out. And if you have to say it, you have to go to court first. We have a constitution; the constitution says every Nigerian shall have the right to free movement.

“Therefore, if anybody wants to restrict a Nigerian’s freedom of movement for one reason or the other, he must go to court.

“Then he gets an Order ex-parte but that ex-parte order is an interim order which allows the other party to go to court and challenge it.

“Therefore, Government in its good sense will not just go and tell Customs or Immigration that Mr A should not be allowed to travel out.”

Atiku Says FG’s Travel Ban Is Undemocratic, Unconstitutional

We Will Gladly Welcome You, PDP Tells Atiku
File photo

 

The presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the travel ban placed on 50 Nigerians through the Executive Order 6.

Mr Abubakar believes the action negates the Constitution which President Buhari swore to protect when he took the oath of office in 2015 and could also throw the country into anarchy.

He said this through a statement issued by his campaign organisation on Sunday.

“We must be unequivocal in saying that we abhor any act of criminality, financially or otherwise, but the rule of law must be our guide at all times or society will descend to anarchy. Thus, we find it most undemocratic that in a nation governed by the Rule of Law, a President who swore an oath to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does this.

“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian citizen freedom of movement and freedom of association,” the statement read.

It further stated that that constitutional right cannot be taken away except by a court order.

“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian citizen freedom of movement and freedom of association. This Constitutional right cannot be taken away except by a court order.

“If the Buhari administration wants to curtail the rights of Nigerians, then they must go to court and obtain a court order. Anything short of this is unconstitutional and extrajudicial,” the statement read.



RELATED

Travel Ban: We Have Not Released Any List Of Nigerians Affected – Garba Shehu

FG Bans 50 Prominent Nigerians From Travelling Abroad


Atiku also took a swipe at the Federal Government for allegedly including the name of the late former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike, on the travel ban list.

The statement read, “To show how clueless this administration is, it included late former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike as number 30 on its travel ban list, the question Nigerians should ask is this: can an administration that is unable to distinguish between the living and the dead bring life to Nigeria’s economy?”.

The Federal Government has, however, denied issuing any list.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, spoke about the issue on Sunday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

He said, “We’ve seen a number of names being circulated. We have not issued any list. We are not going to issue any list because, again, if we did so, a lot of criticism will follow. Trials by media and all sorts of things.”

Mr Shehu had announced the decision of the Federal Government in a statement on Saturday, one day after a Federal High Court in Abuja upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 6.

The order, among other things, allows for the interim seizure of assets linked to investigation, ongoing criminal trials, and other related offences.

It also empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize properties linked with corruption, to prevent the dissipation of such assets.

Following the enforcement of the order, 50 high profile persons were placed on a watch-list and restricted them from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.

Travel Ban: We Have Not Released Any List Of Nigerians Affected – Garba Shehu

 

The Presidency has rubbished the lists making the rounds purportedly containing the names of high-profile Nigerians affected by the travel ban the Federal Government announced on Saturday.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, spoke about the issue on Sunday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

He said, “We’ve seen a number of names being circulated. We have not issued any list. We are not going to issue any list because, again, if we did so, a lot of criticism will follow. Trials by media and all sorts of things.”

Although the Presidential aide declined to mention the names any of the people affected by the travel ban, he suggested that they were no surprises to the list.

“These cases are mostly known by most Nigerians. There are cases that have been in the public domain. Most of them were never really instituted by this administration. They go back seven to 10 years,” he said.

Mr Shehu had announced the decision of the Federal Government in a statement on Saturday, one day after a Federal High Court in Abuja upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 6.

The order, among other things, allows for the interim seizure of assets linked to investigation, ongoing criminal trials, and other related offences.

It also empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize properties linked with corruption, to prevent the dissipation of such assets.

In a statement announcing the ban on Saturday, the Presidency said, “Following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order 6 (EO6), President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.

“To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.

“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.”

The move has attracted criticism and praise. Among the critics are the Peoples Democratic Party, and human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) and the Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Mr Shehu, however, insists that the move was in the interest of concluding cases that have dragged on for too long “and held our judiciary captive”.

“The worry then is they (the cases) are not making progress and the administration wants to move very quickly with these cases so that they go to conclusion,” he said.

“This is a matter in the domain of the (Nigerian) Immigration Service and other security agencies who have the duty of enforcement.”

Asked if the persons affected by the ban are aware of the development in the absence of a public list, Mr Shehu said, “They know themselves. If in doubt, they can check with immigration.”

He argued that making a list of those affected would not help matters.

“This administration will not be subjected to another round of trial by the press; that we are persecuting individuals, or this is political, which, absolutely, it is not or that we are just convicting people via the press,” Mr Shehu said.

“Nigerians are tired of hearing about these endless trials that have led to nowhere and that have held our judiciary captive. Everyone wants to see them ending. That is the point.”

Allow The Courts To Impose Travel Ban On Suspected Looters – Femi Falana

Femi Falana

 

Last week, the Federal High Court upheld the constitutional validity of the controversial Executive Order 6 (EO6) issued by President Mohammed Buhari on July 5 this year. Based on the court ruling the federal government has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies to place no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restrict them from leaving the country pending the final determination of their cases.

Even though the names of the “50 high profile persons” have not been published by the federal government they are presumed to be either standing trial in the various high courts or being investigated for corrupt practices by the anti-graft agencies. Sadly, the travel ban is a sad reminder of the reckless placement of political opponents on security watch list and seizure of their passports by the defunct military junta. But in Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (Pt 595) 340 the Supreme Court did not hesitate to condemn the violation of the right of the respondent to freedom of movement through the seizure of his passport by the appellant. It was the view of the Court that the right of citizens to freedom of movement guaranteed by section 41 of the Constitution and article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act could not be abridged or abrogated by the Executive outside the procedure permitted by law.

Notwithstanding that the decision was handed down in the heyday of a ruthless military dictatorship the current political dispensation has witnessed the secret imposition of travel ban on many citizens. Thus, apart from placing over a hundred citizens on security watch list the passports of the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu, Mallam El-Rufai, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr.Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano) etc were seized without any legal justification by the Obasanjo and Jonathan regimes. It is on record that both El-Rufai and Sanusi successfully challenged the seizure of their passports at the federal high court which ordered the release of the passports and awarded damages to them. In one of the proceedings of the Chukwudifu Oputa Panel on human rights abuse, I had complained against the refusal of the State Security Service to remove my name from the watch list compiled by the defunct military junta. in justifying its decision to retain my name on the watch list on the grounds the SSS claimed that every democratic country has a list of persons whose activities are closely monitored at home and abroad for “security reasons”.

However, the power of the anti-graft agencies and the courts to place criminal suspects on watch list or subject their passports to temporary seizure has never been in doubt. To that extent, the directive to place the 50 high profile suspected persons on watch list and restrict their movement is highly superfluous, completely unwarranted and totally uncalled for. In fact, it is an ingenious design to expose the Buhari administration to ridicule. If the federal government had done some background check it would have discovered that the names of the 50 VIPs have long been placed on security watch list while their passports have been impounded by the anti-graft agencies or the courts as one of the conditions for admitting them to bail. It is public knowledge that whenever the defendants wish to travel abroad for medical treatment they usually apply for the interim release of their passports. Since the courts have taken judicial notice of the perilous state of medical facilities in the country such applications are usually granted. And once the suspects return from the foreign medical trips their passports are returned to the registry of the trial courts.

No doubt, indigent accused persons standing trial for stealing, fraud or other economic crimes in Nigerian courts are not entitled to such privilege because they have no money to acquire passports not to talk of paying for foreign trips and medical treatment abroad. In Joshua Dariye v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2015) LPELR-24398 (SC) the Supreme Court noted the resort to delay tactics by members of the bourgeoisie standing trial for corruption who usually apply for the release of their passports to enable them to travel abroad for urgent medical attention. According to their lordships, “There are cases where the accused develop some rare illness which acts up just before the date set for their trial. They jet out of the country to attend to their health and the case is adjourned. If the medical facilities are not available locally to meet their medical needs is because due to corruption in high places, the country cannot build proper medical facilities, equipped with the state of the arts gadgets”.

Notwithstanding such judicial indictment of politically exposed persons seeking medical treatment during trial, the law has not authorised the Executive to restrict the movement of criminal suspects. In February 2009, the federal government regime directed all Nigerian embassies and high commissions not to renew the passports of Messrs Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El Rufai (now Kaduna state governor) on account of intra class feud. Both of them were then living in exile. But as soon as the attention of former President Umaru Yaradua was drawn to the case of the Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (supra) he ensured that the illegal directive was immediately withdrawn. For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to caution the Buhari administration to wage the war against the menace of corruption within the ambit of the rule of law. Since the 50 high profile criminal suspects covered by EO6 have been placed on watch list while their passports have been seized by either the anti-graft agencies or the courts the travel ban slammed on them by President Buhari ought to be withdrawn without any delay.

Femi Falana SAN.

Falana Asks Buhari To Withdraw Travel Ban On 50 Nigerians ‘Without Any Delay’

Falana                                                                                       Buhari

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana has faulted the decision of the Nigerian Government to ban 50 high-profile Nigerians from travelling out of the country.

In a statement on Sunday, Falana called for the immediate withdrawal of the ban, arguing that the move by the government is reminiscent of the days of military rule.

“For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to caution the Buhari administration to wage the war against the menace of corruption within the ambit of the rule of law,” he said.

“Since the 50 high-profile criminal suspects covered by EO6 (Executive Order 6) have been placed on watch list while their passports have been seized by either the anti-graft agencies or the courts, the travel ban slammed on them by President Buhari ought to be withdrawn without any delay.”

Falana’s statement is in reaction to the announcement by the Federal Government on Saturday that 50 prominent Nigerians had been placed on a watchlist and restricted from leaving the country based on Executive Order 6, which was issued by President Muhammadu Buhari in July, “pending the determination of their cases”.

Read the full statement here.

A Federal High Court had in Abuja on Friday upheld the order, which, among other things, allows for the interim seizure of assets linked to investigation, ongoing criminal trials, and other related offences.

The executive order also empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize properties linked with corruption, to prevent the dissipation of such assets.

Although the Presidency had based the decision on the validation of the EO6 by the court, Falana said the move was uncalled for.

“Sadly, the travel ban is a sad reminder of the reckless placement of political opponents on security watch list and seizure of their passports by the defunct military junta,” he said.


RELATED:

FG Bans 50 Prominent Nigerians From Travelling Abroad

SERAP Describes FG’s Travel Ban On 50 High-Profile Nigerians As Illegal

Buhari’s Travel Ban Is A Direct Clampdown On Our Democratic Order – PDP

Court Upholds Buhari’s Executive Order 6

 


Explaining his position, Falana said, “In Director-General, State Security Service v Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (Pt 595) 340, the Supreme Court did not hesitate to condemn the violation of the right of the respondent to freedom of movement through the seizure of his passport by the appellant.

“It was the view of the Court that the right of citizens to freedom of movement guaranteed by section 41 of the Constitution and article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act could not be abridged or abrogated by the Executive outside the procedure permitted by law.”

The human rights lawyer also gave examples of prominent Nigerians who have been affected by such restrictions in the past and instances where the court ruled in their favour.

He said, “Apart from placing over a hundred citizens on security watch list, the passports of the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu, Mallam El-Rufai, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr.Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano) etc were seized without any legal justification by the Obasanjo and Jonathan regimes.

“It is on record that both El-Rufai and Sanusi successfully challenged the seizure of their passports at the federal high court which ordered the release of the passports and awarded damages to them.”

According to Falana, the latest travel ban imposed on high-profile Nigerians “is highly superfluous, completely unwarranted and totally uncalled for”.

“In fact, it is an ingenious design to expose the Buhari administration to ridicule,” he said.

That, he explained, is because “if the federal government had done some background check it would have discovered that the names of the 50 VIPs have long been placed on security watch list while their passports have been impounded by the anti-graft agencies or the courts as one of the conditions for admitting them to bail”.

He added, “It is public knowledge that whenever the defendants wish to travel abroad for medical treatment they usually apply for the interim release of their passports.

“Since the courts have taken judicial notice of the perilous state of medical facilities in the country such applications are usually granted. And once the suspects return from the foreign medical trips their passports are returned to the registry of the trial courts.”

SERAP Describes FG’s Travel Ban On 50 High-Profile Nigerians As Illegal

SERAP Drags FG To UN Over El-Zakzaky, Dasuki

 

A human-rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have reacted to the Federal Government’s travel ban on 50 high-profile Nigerians describing it as illegal.

The group in a statement signed on Sunday by the Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said the order banning the alleged high-profile corrupt Nigerians from travelling abroad is arbitrary, repressive and illegal.

“It breaches constitutional rights and the country’s international obligations, which protect the rights to freedom of movement, to leave one’s country, to privacy, and to due process of law.

“A travel ban by its nature is an interference with the right to leave one’s country. It is neither necessary nor proportionate to prevent dissipation of stolen assets or stop politically exposed persons (PEPs) from tampering with any such assets. The ban should be immediately lifted and the order rescinded,” the statement read in part.

SERAP added that the travel ban rather than performing its declared objective of preventing dissipation of stolen assets would undermine the government’s expressed commitment to combat corruption and violate the country’s international human rights obligations.

“The travel ban will play right into the hands of high-profile corrupt officials by feeding into the narrative that the fight against corruption is targeted only at political opponents.

“The travel ban and mass surveillance will distract the authorities from taking legitimate action to recover stolen assets, effectively punish high-ranking corrupt officials and portray the government as unwilling to embrace the rule of law in its fight against corruption, thereby making it difficult to obtain the necessary support and cooperation of countries keeping stolen assets.”

SERAP in the statement noted further that the travel ban will also strain the government’s relationships with partner countries, on whom it will inevitably rely for vital asset recovery cooperation, undermining the effort to bring them closer.

“The travel ban cannot achieve the objective of depriving the 50 Nigerians suspected of corruption of their ill-gotten gains.

“It is absolutely important that the government is guided by the provisions of Article 31 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, and which authorises states parties to take preliminary measures to seize, freeze or otherwise immobilise property for the purposes of confiscation/pending investigation and litigation,” the human rights group said.

The Federal Government had on Saturday banned 50 high-profile Nigerians from travelling abroad following the implementation of the Executive Order 6 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Federal Government said the 50 prominent personalities (whose names were not stated) had been placed on a watch-list and are, therefore, restricted from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.

President Buhari on July 5, 2018, signed the Executive Order (6) which will prevent any government official from engaging in corrupt practices.

Buhari’s Travel Ban Is A Direct Clampdown On Our Democratic Order – PDP

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the Federal Government’s ban of 50 Nigerians from travelling abroad is a direct clampdown on democratic order.

In a statement on Saturday, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the restriction as an attempt by the Buhari Presidency to foist a full-blown fascism on the country.

“We hope this is not a ploy to harm certain eminent Nigerians on the claims of resisting travel restrictions. The PDP further notes that this “decree” is a direct clampdown on our democratic order and an overthrow of rights of our citizenry as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” the statement read in part.

The party also stated that the presidency has gone into panic mode since the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate.

Read Also: FG Bans 50 Prominent Nigerians From Travelling Abroad

It, therefore, stressed that any attempt to clamp down on the opposition will be totally unacceptable, adding that no amount of intimidation and harassment will deter Nigerians from ousting the APC administration.

The PDP’s comments follow the implementation of the Executive Order (6) signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevent government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.

The order seeks to restrain owners of assets under investigation from carrying out any further transaction on such assets.

According to a statement issued on Saturday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, following the implementation of the order, 50 prominent personalities (whose names were not stated) were placed on a watch-list and, therefore, restricted from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.

 

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban

Trump Orders Pentagon To Create U.S. 'Space Force'
US President Donald Trump. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

 

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban restricting entry to people from five Muslim-majority countries, delivering the president a major victory in a tortuous legal battle.

The win follows two embarrassing climbdowns for the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on migrants crossing the Mexico border and with Trump under mounting pressure to legislate a solution to the immigration crisis, one of the most polarizing debates in US politics.

Conservative jurists prevailed over liberals in Tuesday’s majority opinion from America’s highest court. The 5-4 ruling validated the most recent version of the ban, which the Trump administration claims is driven by national security.

Trump pounced on the decision as a victory for his authority to defend national security. “Wow!” he tweeted just minutes after the ruling.

“The proclamation does not exceed any textual limit on the president’s authority,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion, capping a battle that began just days after Trump took office in January 2017.

“The government has set forth a sufficient national security justification to survive rational basis review. We express no view on the soundness of the policy.”

In a statement, Trump called the ruling “a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”

The decision relates to Trump’s third travel ban, which applies to travelers from North Korea and five mainly Muslim nations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — or about 150 million people.

A week into his presidency, Trump enacted a campaign promise and announced a 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

‘Discriminatory policy’

He had repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Muslim immigrants and after a 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, California, used his campaign to propose a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Prepared in secret, the sudden order created chaos as hundreds of travelers were blocked at airports.

Tens of thousands of visas were canceled and protesters took to the streets saying the president was banning Muslims in violation of the constitution’s religious freedom protections.

Courts in several states ruled the measure illegal, and did so again in March 2017 after the administration slightly amended the original order, dropping Iraq from the list.

The US president was angered, but was forced to recast the ban again. Issued in September, the latest version was open-ended, dropped Sudan, and added North Korea and a selection of Venezuelan officials.

Opponents — and the court’s liberal-leaning justices — decried what they saw as a measure targeting Muslim countries, and referred back to Trump’s anti-Muslim statements during his election campaign.

The worst attacks in the United States since the Al-Qaeda hijackings on September 11, 2001, have been committed either by Americans or immigrants from countries not affected by the travel ban.

In a scathing dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: “Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

She accused her colleagues of “blindly accepting the government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security.”

‘History will judge harshly’

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been at the forefront of the fight against the ban, led an avalanche of criticism from liberals as activists rallied supporters for planned protests later on Tuesday.

“This is not the first time the court has been wrong, or has allowed official racism and xenophobia to continue rather than standing up to it. History has its eyes on us — and will judge today’s decision harshly,” it tweeted.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, said the ruling would “go down in history as one of the Supreme Court’s great failures.”

“This is a backward and un-American policy that fails to improve our national security,” said top Democrat, US Senator Chuck Schumer.

Immigration has been one of the thorniest issues in American politics for decades and the Trump administration has rolled back its “zero tolerance” border policy that had triggered international outcries over family separations.

Five days after halting the separation of children from their parents, on Monday it suspended its policy of automatically arresting and prosecuting every adult who crosses the border from Mexico without authorization.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was scheduled to address a criminal justice foundation in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with rights groups planning protests.

Sessions, who announced the “zero tolerance” policy in May, has said violent Central American gangs send children across the border illegally.

The House of Representatives intends to vote Wednesday on a broad immigration bill to end family separations, but its fate is in doubt. Should the bill fail, it would be a dramatic embarrassment for Republicans, who control Congress.

AFP

Former Malaysian PM, Najib Banned From Leaving Country

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak attends a press conference to announce his resignation as President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in Kuala Lumpur on May 12, 2018.  ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

 

Malaysia’s scandal-hit former prime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were Saturday banned from leaving the country, the immigration chief said, after the shock election loss of Najib’s coalition.

“The immigration department has just now blacklisted Najib and Rosmah from leaving the country,” Mustafar Ali, director-general of the immigration department, told AFP.

Najib said in a tweet: “I have just been informed by the immigration department of Malaysia that my family and I are not allowed to go abroad. I respect the decision and I will remain in the country with my family.”

The travel ban came as speculation mounted that Najib and Rosmah, a hugely unpopular figure due to her reported love of luxury shopping trips, were about to board a flight to fly to Indonesia.

Najib had earlier tweeted he was going to take a “short break”. An angry crowd had descended on an airport near Kuala Lumpur where the couple had been expected to leave from, in a bid to stop them from departing.

After his defeat, speculation mounted the pair might flee the country as former strongman premier Mahathir Mohamad, who beat him in the elections, has pledged to probe a massive scandal in which Najib is implicated concerning the theft of billions of dollars of state funds.

AFP

Trump Lifts Travel Ban On Chad

United States’ President, Donald Trump attends a meeting with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, DC.  Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

The United States announced Tuesday the lifting of its six-month ban on visitors and immigrants from Chad, saying the country had met key security requirements for vetting travelers.

“The president announced today that United States Lifts Travel Ban On Chad has raised its security standards to meet important baseline US national security requirements,” the Department of Homeland Security announced.

“Therefore, its nationals will again be able to receive visas for travel to the United States.”

The travel restrictions will be officially terminated on April 13.

The central African country’s government, which the US calls a “critical” partner in fighting terrorism, had expressed astonishment in September last year when the US unexpectedly added it to a list of five other mainly-Muslim countries under a travel ban.

Chad’s foreign minister Cherif Mahamat Zene welcomed the news.

“Chad is pleased to be removed from the list of countries whose nationals are banned from entering the United States, and hopes to further strengthen the strategic partnership and cooperation between the two countries,” he tweeted.

Critics say the ban — first declared in January 2017 without Chad on the list — targeted Muslim travelers, pointing to President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to ban Muslims from coming to the United States.

After a series of court challenges, the Trump administration revised the ban in September, putting all the countries listed under a 180-day review.

The Department of Homeland Security has maintained that the ban focused on getting countries to improve information on their citizens and cooperation on travel databases, to meet US security standards.

US officials said Chad has addressed the deficiencies in vetting outward-bound travelers and cooperating with US security bodies.

They said it sets an example for other countries on the list, which include Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and North Korea.

The ban was applied in a limited way to officials from certain Venezuelan government agencies as well.

“We welcome the improved practices by the Chadian authorities, which demonstrate a clear off-ramp for countries placed on the travel restriction list. These improvements will improve security for the people of Chad and the United States,” the State Department said.

AFP

Another Judge Orders Freeze On Trump’s Latest Travel Ban

 

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee and his economic team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2017. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

A second judge ordered a freeze on President Donald Trump’s newest travel ban order on Wednesday, saying it was essentially targeted at Muslims in violation of the United States Constitution.

Maryland federal judge Theodore Chuang said the ban affecting travelers from six majority-Muslim countries and North Korea, as well as many officials from Venezuela, essentially had not changed from the first two versions, which were shot down in lower courts as discriminating against a single religion.

He pointed out, as in earlier rulings, that Trump had repeatedly promised a ban on Muslims coming into the country during last year’s presidential election.

Chuang was the second judge this week to order a block on the open-ended ban, issued in a White House executive order in September and which was to come in effect on Wednesday.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the White House Wednesday, chanting “no Muslim ban,” and “no ban, no wall, freedom for all” — referencing Trump’s plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. A march to the Trump International Hotel, a few blocks away, was also planned.

Yemeni Fathi al-Huthaifi, 41, told AFP his wife is stranded in Saudi Arabia as a result of the ban.

“She’s waiting for her visa but the travel ban makes it delayed, delayed,” explained Huthaifi, who has five children, all with US citizenship.

“When we allow one group to get banned, then we allow other groups to get banned,” civil rights activist Linda Sarsour said, adding, “This is part of a standing campaign of this administration, a white supremacist agenda.”

Isra Chaker, a refugee camp adviser for Oxfam America, branded the ban “an affront to the American tradition.”

“This decision impacts life of real people… no one (chooses) to become a refugee,” she said.

On Tuesday, Hawaii federal district judge Derrick Watson also objected to the ban, saying it illegally discriminated against the entire populations of six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and would not, as it claimed, add to US national security.

Trump has battled with the courts since the first version of the ban, and in June finally gained Supreme Court approval to implement an amended second version for 90 days, which ended last month.

On Tuesday the White House said it would fight the newest ban by Watson, pointing to yet another likely fight in the Supreme Court.

AFP

Second US Judge Orders Freeze On Trump Travel Ban

Donald Trump

A second US judge ordered a freeze on President Donald Trump’s newest travel ban order Wednesday, saying it was essentially targeted at Muslims in violation of the US Constitution.

Maryland federal judge Theodore Chuang said the ban of travelers from six majority-Muslim countries and North Korea, and on many officials from Venezuela, essentially had not changed from the first two versions, which were shot down in lower courts as discriminating against a single religion.

He pointed out, as in earlier rulings, that Trump had repeatedly promised a ban on Muslims coming into the country during last year’s presidential election.

Chuang was the second judge this week to order a block on the open-ended ban, issued in a White House executive order in September and which was to come in effect on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Hawaii federal district judge Derrick Watson also objected to the ban, saying it illegally discriminated against the entire populations of six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and would not, as it claimed, add to US national security.

Trump has battled with the courts since the first version of the ban, and in June finally gained Supreme Court approval to implement an amended second version for 90 days, which ended last month.

On Tuesday the White House said it would fight the newest ban by Watson, pointing to yet another likely fight in the Supreme Court.

“We are therefore confident that the judiciary will ultimately uphold the president’s lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people,” the White House said.