President Muhammadu Buhari has defended his decision to not hand over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he visited the United Kingdom privately from April 25 to May 5, 2019.
Buhari said there was no constitutional requirement for him to do so for trips less than 21 days.
He stated this in response to a suit by a Lagos-based lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, challenging him and the Attorney-General of the Federation for the failure to hand over power to Osinbajo in April.
The suit marked, FHC/L/CS/763/2019, is before Justice A. O. Faji of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos and will be heard on Monday, October 7, 2019.
Effiong asked the court to determine whether in view of Section 145 (1) of the Constitution, 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 asked the court to determine whether Buhari’s vacation 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.
But the President defended his action via a six-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to on his behalf by a litigation officer in the Civil Litigation Department of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Friday Atu.
The affidavit reads in part, “It is a fact that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) regulates the performance of the duties of the President of the federal Republic of Nigeria in situations where the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of office.
“That it is a fact that where the President embarks on a vacation or otherwise is unable to discharge the functions of his office and fails to transmit a written declaration to that effect, he will be considered not to have complied with the constitution (as amended).
“That the time within which the President has to transmit a written letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is 21 days.
“That the President’s foreign trip lasted for nine days from April 25, 2019 to May 5, 2019. The President did not exceed the 21-day period required by the constitution. It is in the interest of justice to dismiss the claims of the plaintiff.”
Buhari equally asked the court in a preliminary objection to strike out the suit because the lawyer lacks the locus standi to institute the case.