Lawyer sues Buhari over UK “private visit”

President Muhammadu Buhari departs the country for official events. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the Presidency]
President Muhammadu Buhari departs the country.[PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the Presidency]

A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has sued President Muhammadu Buhari for not handing over power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo when he travelled to London on a private visit two weeks ago.

The case, with suit number FHC/L/CS/763/2019, was filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Also named as defendant in the suit is Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Mr Effiong asked the court to determine whether in view of the extant provisions of Section 145 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the president can validly proceed on vacation for any length of time without transmitting a written declaration to the National Assembly to that effect, which will empower the Vice-President to perform the functions of the President in an acting capacity.

He also asked the court to determine whether Mr Buhari’s action in proceeding on vacation to the UK from April 25 to May 5 without transmitting the written declaration envisaged in Section 145 (1) of the constitution to National Assembly is not in conflict with the provisions of Section 145 (1) of the constitution.

Similarly, the court will determine whether the President in refusing to adhere to the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 145 (1) of the constitution had not by that singular action violated his oath of office and the provisions of the constitution which he swore to uphold.

The lawyer asked the court to clarify whether the Constitution or any other law for that matter, permits the President to exercise Presidential authority over the affairs of Nigeria from any country outside the territorial jurisdiction of Nigeria, save when he is out of the country on official diplomatic engagements.

“A declaration that the failure of the 1st defendant (Buhari) to comply with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) by not transmitting a written declaration to the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to that effect before proceeding on vacation to the United Kingdom from the 25th day of April, 2019 to the 5th day of May, 2019 is a gross violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended),” the suit read in part.

The lawyer asked the court to rule that that since the Constitution does not have extra-territorial application, the president cannot exercise presidential authority over the affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from the United Kingdom, or any other country outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, save when he is outside the country on official diplomatic engagements.

Mr Effiong also asked the court to restrain Mr Buhari from proceeding on vacations whether within or outside the Nigeria without transmitting a written declaration to the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in compliance with section 145 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

PREMIUM TIMES understands that no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Mr Buhari Sunday returned to Abuja, after a 10-day ‘private visit’ to the United Kingdom.

A statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said some “reckless online media, irresponsible political opposition, and other bilious groups and individuals, had gone on overdrive since the President left the country on April 25, insinuating that he was going for hospitalization, and would not return after 10 days as stated.”

Mr Adesina also said in their “vain imaginations, they even stated that fictive doctors have advised President Buhari to stay longer for more intensive care”.

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