Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has hailed the decision of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to sound a warning to military officers planning to delve into politics to sabotage the current democratic dispensation.
Mr. Falana spoke Saturday at the 50th year anniversary summit convened by the Movement of Genuine Change to mark the creation of Kwara State in Ilorin.
“A few days ago, the Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai, alerted the Nigerian people of the nefarious plans of a bunch of desperate politicians to invite some members of the armed forces to terminate the democratic process,” said Mr. Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
“Although various civil society groups have warned against the dangerous plot, the media and officials of the federal government should stop playing into the hands of anti-democratic elements by giving false impression that there is political instability in the country.”
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had, last Tuesday, issued a stern warning to army officers to stay off politics and politically related activities.
Mr. Buratai’s warning came following information to the army that some undisclosed individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for “undisclosed political reasons.”
Mr. Falana said the enemies of democracy must not be allowed to exploit the president’s ill health to truncate the democratic dispensation.
“Notwithstanding the glaring shortcomings of the fragile democratic process, the people should be allowed to take advantage of the democratic structures to effect change,” Mr. Falana said.
“Our bitter experience has shown that Nigerians have opted for political change through the ballot box and not through the barrel of the gun
“On their own part, the political class should put their house in order and stop inciting potential coup plotters.
“While the decision of the Army Chief to alert the nation of the devilish plot is appreciated, the authorities should proceed to fish out the coup plotters and their civilian collaborators with a view to trying them for treasonable felony.”
Mr. Falana also described as “embarrassing” the statement by Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture, that the decision on who would sign the 2017 budget would be made when the document was submitted to the presidency.
According to Mr. Falana, the question of who would sign the budget should not be in doubt since the president had properly handed over to his vice before his travel abroad.
“I wish to state, without any fear of contradiction, that once the President has transmitted a letter to the National Assembly that he is proceeding on vacation, all presidential powers are automatically transferred to the Vice President who shall be the Acting President.
“Therefore, until the President writes another letter to the National Assembly at the end of the vacation, he cannot exercise the powers of his office.
“In other words, the President is not competent to sign any bill into law while he is on vacation. The Constitution did not envisage that a President who is on vacation and an Acting President who is standing proxy for him will be exercising presidential powers simultaneously.
“To that extent, pending the resumption of duties by President Buhari, the Acting President, Professor Osinbajo, is competent to sign all bills validly passed by the National Assembly.”