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You can’t justify criminalised entitlement, Odinkalu, Mahmud slam presidency over abuse of presidential jet
CHIDI Odinkalu, former Chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has demanded that the presidency apologise to Nigerians and stop justifying ‘criminalised entitlement’ after President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan was criticised for flying presidential jet for a private travel.
Similarly, human right lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, described Hanan’s use of the presidential jet as the ‘height of abuse of presidential privileges by the First family.’
Hanan, a recent graduate of Ravensbourne University, London, with First Class in Photography was pictured alighting the presidential jet on Thursday to attend a Durbar festival in Bauchi.
It was gathered that the Durbar was specially organised to avail her the opportunity to take photographs of the traditional festival, Bauchi architecture and other cultural sites in the state.
This had generated criticisms on social media on whether or not president’s children are entitled to using the presidential jet.
But in response, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the president stated that Buhari’s children have the right to use the Nigerian Airforce One, Punch reports.
Shehu revealed that Hanan got the approval of her father who in turn informed the National Security Adviser.
However, while speaking to The ICIR in an interview, Odinkalu, Nigeria’s foremost lawyer and human rights activist stated that the current administration which sold itself on a crested coat of integrity has been acting outside the lines and against the rules.
“For an administration that sold itself on a ticket of integrity, these guys are acting entitled to the point of criminality,” Odinkalu said.
“Rather than seek to justify it, they should simply apologise. They should also bury their heads in shame.”
Reacting also, Mahmud, criticised Hanan’s use of the presidential jet as the ‘height of abuse of presidential privileges by the First family.’
Mahmud, who was one of the lead counsels who represented the convener of the Revolution Now, Omoyele Sowere against the State Security Service (SSS) told The ICIR that since the start of civilian rule, the use of the presidential jet has only been to the exclusion of the president, vice president, senate president and the chief justice of Nigeria, until now.
While noting that issues such as the use of presidential jet is not dealt with by the Constitution, he, however, quoted Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution which states that executive powers and privileges can only be enjoyed by Mr president.
He also faulted the presidential spokesperson for defending the use of the presidential jet by a member of the first family.
“What Garba Shehu claimed is incorrect. The president doesn’t include the daughter who flew on a presidential jet to attend to a private function.” Mahmud said.
In a message sent to Punch, Shehu said: “The normal practice in existence for a long time is that the Presidential Air fleet is available to the President and the first family and four others. These four are the Vice President, the Senate President the Speaker and any other person(s) authorised by the President.”
Reacting to this, Mahmud stated that the opposite happens in the United States and the United Kingdom, which he reiterated is the 5th biggest economy in the world.
According to him, the first family is required to pay for its feeding in the White House, adding that Trump’s daughter Ivanka has faced rejection on many occasions on the use of the Air Force One.
During the last Christmas, Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, flew economy class of a commercial airline for his holidays.
Mahmud also said that while Nigeria is christened as the poverty capital of the world, it allowed the president’s daughter the luxury of increasing the country’s carbon footprint in ‘wasteful use of the presidential jet’.
In recent times, Nigerians have also lamented the allocation of N8.5 billion for the maintenance of the Presidential fleet in the 2020 budget.