The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has called for the immediate withdrawal of the US entry visa issued to a former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje.
This was contained in a petition sent to the President through the US Secretary of State, Micheal Pompeo, and the US Embassy in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that Goje was facing corruption charges, a N25bn scam, until the Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation made a dramatic withdrawal of the charges.
In the petition signed by HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the group said granting a US visa to Goje undermines the global efforts at fighting corruption.
The group stressed that allowing a suspect like Goje to get free access to the US would 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.
The statement partly read, "We urge you to immediately revoke this visa in accordance with the dreams of the US founding fathers, who vowed to prevent the US from being turned into a haven for people strongly suspected to have committed heinous financial crimes.
"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 carried out detailed and diligent investigations for about 10 years, spending about N250 million of taxpayers’ money. The matter was charged to court before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court, Jos, Plateau State.
"Gombe is one of the states in the North-East of Nigeria with a high rate of poverty. One of the other problems, aside from corruption, is poor education standard as exemplified in the number of out-of-school children in the state. There are over 600,000 out-of-school children fuelled by corruption allegedly perpetrated by the former governor.
"We write this request to demand that a man of this kind of political standing, with corruption allegations, should not be allowed to hold an American visa or if he already has one, it should be revoked.
“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.”
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 discontinue the case grossly violated Nigerian laws which states that in exercising his powers, the AGF shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
The statement added, "Our demand is a result of the failure of the Nigerian Government to put enough commitment to the prosecution of Goje based on the allegations of corruption. 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.”