Human rights and constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has told President Muhammadu Buhari to stop his family from using aircraft in the presidential fleet.
Naija News reports that Nigerians had condemned Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, for flying to Bauchi with the Presidential Jet on invitation by Rilwanu Adamu, Emir of Bauchi, on Thursday to Durbar.
Hannan, who is a first-class graduate in photography visited the state to document the event and other tourist attractions in the state as a professional photographer.
Pictures that surfaced online showed that Hannan was accorded a warm reception by officials of the state waiting for her at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport.
Defending Hanan, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said it is normal practice for the president’s family to use the presidential aircraft.
He said it was not illegal, adding that criticism of the president’s daughter was misplaced.
“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 authorised by the president,” Shehu had said.
Reacting in a statement on Sunday, Femi Falana said the use of aircraft in the presidential fleet by members of the first family for private events is not backed by law.
He said there is no such practice as stated by Garba Shehu adding that the “official policy” of the federal government “does not authorise the children of the President to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions”.
Falana recalled that Buhari had promised to reduce the cost of maintaining aircraft in the presidential fleet.
“The so-called ‘normal practice’ of using the aircraft in the presidential fleet by members of the first family to attend to private engagements is not backed by any extant law or official policy,” he said.
“In view of the foregoing, we call on President Buhari to stop the members of his family from using any of the aircraft in the presidential fleet “with a view to cutting down on waste”.
“A country that is said to be the headquarters of the greatest number of poverty-stricken people in the world cannot afford to waste billions of Naira on the use of presidential aircraft and hiring of commercial jets by state governors that are owing workers several months of unpaid salaries.”