A member of the House of Representatives, Ibrahim Baba, has explained how the alleged plot by some members of the House to get a medical panel to visit President Muhammadu Buhari in the United Kingdom, was aborted.
Mr. Buhari has been on medical leave in London, UK, since May 7.
He had earlier in the year spent 59 days receiving treatment in the European country.
The House leadership had reportedly come under pressure from some forces within and outside in the last two months to constitute up a medical panel on the health of the president, in line with Section 144 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Section 144 (1) (a) says “by a resolution by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.
The ultimate aim of the panel, which would have drawn each of its members from six geo-political zones, was allegedly to get a report stating that Mr. Buhari was incapacitated and should therefore resign honourably from office.
Mr. Baba, a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who represents Katagum federal constituency of Bauchi State, said the plot was aborted, when lawmakers opposed to it argued that since Mr. Buhari transmitted a letter to the National Assembly informing it that he was ceding powers to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, there was no need to invoke the provisions of the constitution.
“I can confirm the demand made by some of our colleagues (to constitute a medical panel),” the lawmaker told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
“This thing started about two months ago. I was one of those who kicked against it. The pressure was actually on the leadership but some of us got wind of it.
“We had argued that since the president legally transmitted a letter to us saying the vice president will act as president there was no need for any medical panel.
“We also argued that since the Acting President has been taking major decisions which ordinarily the president alone should take, we shouldn’t bother to set up any medical team. Osinbajo has signed executive orders, signed the budget, swore in ministers and many other things and therefore there is no vacuum in governance.”
Mr. Baba said he and other lawmakers opposed to the setting up of a medical panel would have supported the demand if it was clear that the president was incapacitated.
“As you can see, President Buhari is not incapacitated. He is recuperating, and very fast. Some people, including party leaders and some governors have visited him and we saw him on television and on other media platforms.
“I assure you if the president had been incapacitated, we would have invoked the provisions of the constitution and maybe we would have used the Doctrine of Necessity.
“We were able to contain this thing for two months until it died down. We were putting pressure on the Speaker not to succumb because it will cause some instability in the system.”
The lawmaker alleged that majority of the lawmakers who canvassed the setting up of the panel were members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the south-south and south-east geopolitical zones as well as a few lawmakers from the north.
Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to speak with the Minority Leader of the House, Leo Ogor, who is also the chairman of the PDP Caucus, were not successful.
However, a member of the PDP, Nicholas Ossai, said he was not aware of the plot.
“I am not aware,” said Mr. Ossai, who represents Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency of Delta State.
Hassan Turaki, media aide to the Speaker, did not respond to inquisition by this newspaper on Tuesday.
He also did not respond to a text message sent to him as requested.
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