Tinubu’s private visit to France exposed Nigeria to ridicule — Falana

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Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has faulted President Bola Tinubu for his trip to France.

Last week, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesperson, announced that Tinubu had embarked on a private visit to Paris, the French capital, without citing a reason.

Ngelale said the president is expected to return to the country by the first week of February.

Reacting to the development in an interview on Sunday, Falana said Tinubu’s visit to France is embarrassing to Nigeria, especially as the French country has not recognised his presence.

The SAN cited the recognised private visits to France by Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti, the late Afrobeat legend, at the invitation of former President Francois Mitterrand.

He wondered why a Nigerian president would travel to the same country and get no official recognition.

“I hope this will be the last time that a president of Nigeria will expose the country to embarrassment and ridicule by going to a country where his presence is not recognized,” Falana said.

The human rights activist also said the law does not make provision for a private visit by the president.

“There is no provision in the constitution for a private visit by the Nigerian president. Therefore, he cannot go on a private visit and still be running the country,” he said.

“So to the extent that the activities of the state are still being conducted by him, the question of a private visit does not arise.”

Falana also criticised Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, for purportedly attending a birthday party in Grenada.

Reports had claimed that the governor travelled to Grenada to attend the lavish parties organised by Aisha Achimugu, the Abuja-based Nigerian socialite.

However, in a tweet on his official X account, Sanwo-Olu said he travelled to the country to facilitate the economic interests of his state after meeting with the country’s prime minister.

Falana said Sanwa-Olu’s visit to the prime minister was an afterthought designed to cover the embarrassing implications of the trip.

“The governor of a state in a federation does not conduct foreign affairs,” Falana said.

“He knows he cannot tell Lagosians that he went on a private visit to attend a birthday party. That is why he had to quickly call on the PM to make it look official.”