By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
TWO months after leaving power, no fewer than 12 close aides of former President Goodluck Jonathan have been stripped of their official passports.
A competent source told Saturday Vanguard that the decision to withdraw the official passports of the former aides of Dr Jonathan was to prevent misuse and conflict with new aides and officials of President Muhammadu Buhari, who assumed duties on May 29, 2015.
It could not be established last night whether the affected officials were ordered by the Presidency to surrender the passports or whether they did so voluntarily.
But Saturday Vanguard learned that the affected former aides of Jonathan had already returned the passports to the Presidential Villa preparatory to being handed over to the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS.
Abati, Adegbe, Obua, 9 others affected
Among those whose passports have been retrieved are former Special Adviser to the President on Media Reuben Abati; former Aide-de-Camp, Col. Ojogbane Adegbe and former Chief Security Officer, Gordon Obua, who is currently hospitalised over poor health arising from his recent incarceration by security agents.
Nine other key officials of the Jonathan Presidency who were also issued with official passports have also been stripped of the travel documents.
It was gathered that the former officials had been asked by the Presidency to relinquish their official passports to the Villa within a stipulated time-frame for onward return to the NIS, which issued them.
Questions to answer
However, another source hinted that the withdrawal of the former president’s henchmen’s travel documents was to prevent some of them who have some issues to explain to the new administration from leaving the country and being given preferential treatment at their destinations.
“Don’t forget that some of these officials may be needed here to answer some questions relating to their tenure,” the source said.
No ill-motive –NIS
However, the Nigerian Immigration Service said last night that there was no ill-motive in withdrawing the official passports of government officials who had completed their assignments.
NIS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joachim Obua, explained that it was normal for officials of government to surrender their official passports at the end of their tenure.
“It is important for the position to be made clear that official passports are not the property of anyone holding it. Once you complete your assignment you have to return it to the NIS,” he explained.