President Muhammadu Buhari has explained why he didn’t hand over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, when he travelled to the United Kingdom on a private visit from April 25 to May 5, 2019.
The president said he made the decision because there was no constitutional requirement for him to do so.
He also explained that the only time he considers handing over power to the vice president is when he’s going on leave or when he wants to be out of the country for more than 21 days.
President Buhari offered this explanation in 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, Punch reports.
Earlier, a Lagos-based lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, had sued he President and the Attorney-General of the Federation over the Buhari’s failure to hand over power to Osinbajo in April.
The lawyer asked the court to determine whether Buhari could go on vacation for any length of time without transmitting a written declaration to the National Assembly to enable the Vice President function as President in acting capacity.
Responding to this, President Buhari said it is not constitutionally compulsory for him to transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to empower the Vice President to act as President except when his vacation exceeds 21 days.
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 also asked the court to strike out the suit because the lawyer lacks the locus standi to institute the case.
According to Punch, the case, which is before Justice A. O. Faji of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has been fixed for Monday, October 7, 2019 for further hearing.