HEDA asks President Trump to revoke Senator Goje’s Visa
The United States (US) President Mr. Donald Trump has been asked to revoke and deny US Visa issued to former Gombe State Governor, Senator Danjuma Goje.
The Senator was facing corruption charges in a N25 billion scam until the Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation made a dramatic withdrawal of the charges.
In a petition sent to the President through the US Secretary of State, Mr Micheal Pompeo, and the US Embassy in Nigeria, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) called for the immediate withdrawal of the US entry Visa issued to Goje, any and in absence of a valid visa, deny him the issuance of one.
It said the immediate withdrawal of the Visa is in line with the powers confered on the US President by the American constitution.
In the petition signed by HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, the group said granting a US visa to Goje undermines the global efforts at fighting corruption.
“We urge you to immediately revoke this Visa in accordance with the dream of the US founding fathers who vowed to prevent the US from being turned into save haven for people strongly suspected to have committed heinious financial crimes.”
The foremost right group said allowing a suspect like Goje free access to the US will send wrong signals to victims of crime in Nigeria especially the poor and miserable people of Gombe who have been denied the essentials of life.
HEDA stated “Our demand is premised on corruption allegations of N25 billion levelled against Goje and widely circulated by credible Nigerian media. Sequel to this, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) carried out detailed and diligent investigations for about 10 years spending about N250 million of tax payers money and resulting in the matter being charged to court before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court, Jos, Plateau State.”
The group said the matter was suddenly, in a dramatic turn of event, taken over by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in June and later withdrawn on the 6th July, 2019.
Suraju cited many media reports indicating that the withdrawal of the case was linked to a political favour Goje had offered the presidency in the run off to the election of the Senate President which produced Ahmed Lawan.
HEDA said the allegations that led to the eventual arraignment of the Senator before the Federal High Court, Jos was that while serving as Governor of Gombe State he was alleged to have converted 25 Billion Naira of public fund to personal use.
It added “Corruption dwell in the state amidst poverty as was reported by Punch Newspaper on the 22nd October, 2018 that Gombe is one of the states in the Northeast of Nigeria with high epidemic rate of poverty. One of the other vices aside corruption that sat side by side with poverty in Gombe State is poor education as exemplified in the number of out of school children with over 600,000 out of school children fuelled by corruption perpetrated by the former governor.”
It noted that the people of Gombe persistently suffer from poor access to health, food insecurity, flood, erosion and other ecological misery while children and women face the scourge of poverty arising from corruption.
The group added “We write this request to demand that a man of this kind of political standing with dirty stains of corruption allegations should not be allowed to hold an American Visa or if he already has one, it should be revoked.”
According to HEDA, the Visa should be reversed in accordance with the laws of the United States.
HEDA refers to the US.284 – Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, of 114th Congress (2015-2016) particularly, Section 3a (3) & (4) which states in (a) that “The President may impose the sanctions described in subsection (b) with respect to any foreign person the President determines, based on credible evidence—
(3) is a government official, or a senior associate of such an official, that is responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption, including the expropriation of private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions”
Others cited by HEDA were section which states that such a visa could be withdrawn from a person that
” (4) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, an activity described in paragraph (3).
United States Department of State Regulations also empowers the president to give sanctions as stated below in Section 3 (b) (A) & (B);
(b) The sanctions described in this subsection are the following:
(1) INADMISSIBILITY TO UNITED STATES. —”In the case of a foreign person who is an individual”
The group also referred to the US law which affirms “ineligibility to receive a Visa to enter the United States or to be admitted to the United States; or (B) if the individual has been issued a visa or other documentation, revocation, in accordance with section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i))”
It said the Attorney General of the Federation’s decision to take over and discontinue the case grossly violated Nigerian laws which states that in exercising his powers, the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
Suraju stated further “Our demand is as result of the failure of the Nigerian Government to put enough commitment to the prosecution of the Senator based on the allegations of corruption and we hereby crave the indulgence and discretion of the United States Government.”
“In the circumstance of the above, we hereby demand that the United States Government revoke the visa if any or deny any visa application linked to the Senator pending when the allegations of corruption against the Senator has been cleared legally and appropriately”
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