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Medical trip: Buhari’s failure to transmit power to Osinbajo unconstitutional, says Edwin Clark

Edwin Clark, leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), says President Muhammadu Buhari breached the constitution by not formally transmitting power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo before leaving for London for his routine medical check-up.

Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, announced Buhari’s departure on Monday.

He said the president is expected back in the country in the second week of November.

However, there was no mention of whether Osinbajo would be in charge in the president’s absence.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Clark asked if the president is afraid of handing over to the VP.

He said Osinbajo proved his competence while he acted as president in 2017 when Buhari was out of the country for over 100 days.

He accused the president of taking Nigerians for granted and violating Section 145 of the constitution which mandates him to hand over power when he is travelling.

Clark said the president’s argument that he can only transmit power when his trip exceeds 21 days is unknown to law.

In 2019, President Buhari said the only time he needs to hand over to Osinbajo is when he is proceeding on leave or going to be out of the country for more than 21 days.

He said this in a six-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to on his behalf by one Friday Atu, a litigation officer in the civil litigation department of the federal ministry of justice.

His affidavit was in response to a suit filed by Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer, who sued the president and the attorney-general of the federation over the failure to hand over power to Osinbajo in April 2019.

There is no issue of 21 days and the president cannot import into the constitution what is not there,” Clark said.

“What Section 145 says, is that the president shall transmit to the national assembly, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, whenever he will be away on medical vacation.

“And in his absence, the constitution empowers the vice president to act as the president. And the word shall is used there. Where does Mr. President get that one from? That one does not exist, except that’s another constitution. I am a lawyer.

“Overseeing of the affairs of the government as acting president is a must because the constitution used the word shall which is obligatory. And anything done outside it is unconstitutional and illegal.

A president’s inability to perform his functions, even for a few hours, mandates such action of transmitting a letter to NASS. This is what is done by any responsible government.”

The PANDEF leader further stated that “the president of Nigeria is constitutionally bound to inform Nigerians, of whatever ailment or disease he is suffering from and for which government money is being spent”.

Nigerians will understand; he is a human, and that is why the framers of the constitution provided section 145. Unfortunately, up till now, Nigerians do not know how much of taxpayers’ money is being spent on their president,” he added.

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