Pres­i­dency: Buhari won’t quit Re­sume or re­sign – Pro­test­ers No time limit for pres­i­dent’s re­sump­tion – Falana, Ali

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili & John Chuks Azu

The Pres­i­dency has de­scribed the call for Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s res­ig­na­tion as an “ir­ra­tional as­sault” on the con­sti­tu­tion of Nige­ria.

The Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent on Me­dia and Pub­lic­ity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a state­ment last night, said such calls should be ig­nored by well-mean­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic.

He was re­spond­ing to yes­ter­day’s demon­stra­tion by a coali­tion of civil so­ci­ety groups who asked Buhari to ei­ther re­turn from his Lon­don med­i­cal va­ca­tion or re­sign from of­fice.

Shehu stated: “The demon­stra­tion is in the ex­er­cise of their free­dom un­der the con­sti­tu­tion, which guar­an­tees their right to em­bark on peace­ful protests. So long as they re­main peace­ful, we have no prob­lem with them. What is democ­racy if cit­i­zens can’t peace­fully demon­strate?

“On the sec­ond is­sue, de­mand­ing the Pres­i­dent’s re­turn, or res­ig­na­tion or cer­tain ex­pla­na­tions, I would say that they have over-stepped their bounds.

“The pres­i­dent has com­plied 100 per­cent with the con­sti­tu­tion by hand­ing over power to the VicePres­i­dent be­fore pro­ceed­ing on his va­ca­tion. He has not breached any law or the con­sti­tu­tion by stay­ing away from of­fice to take care of his health.

“Equally, there is noth­ing like a power vac­uum in the coun­try given the com­pe­tence and gen­eral har­mony with which the whole gov­ern­ment is run­ning.

“The need of the hour for this coun­try is to rid it of cor­rup­tion, re­form and rein­vig­o­rate the econ­omy and to fight crime and in­sur­gency.

“The gov­ern­ment is busy with the re­con­struc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of in­fras­truc­ture all over the coun­try. It is cre­at­ing jobs for the un­em­ployed. It has set its sights on the larger pic­ture of the coun­try’s devel­op­ment; in­vest­ing in rail and power projects and re­deem­ing the coun­try’s im­age from the moun­tains of cor­rup­tion scan­dals that have marred it. We will not, there­fore, be dis­tracted by this or any other groups.”

Speak­ing with State House cor­re­spon­dents ear­lier in the day, Garba said the protest was base­less be­cause Buhari handed over power to his deputy, Pro­fes­sor Yemi Os­in­bajo and wrote the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“On the sec­ond is­sue, whether the pres­i­dent should re­sign or dis­close or what­ever, I think they are step­ping out­side the laws of this coun­try. Any­one con­ver­sant with the con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try will have no­ticed or seen that Mr Pres­i­dent has com­plied 100 per­cent with the re­quire­ments of the con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try.

“He has handed over power to the Vice Pres­i­dent re­ly­ing on the con­sti­tu­tion and the Vice Pres­i­dent is car­ry­ing out with the af­fairs of this coun­try, un­der­tak­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of gov­ern­ment in line with the con­sti­tu­tion in a way that the pres­i­dent him­self has given words of com­men­da­tion.

“So, the pres­i­dent has not breached any law. What he has done is per­fectly in line with the con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try and peo­ple are look­ing for things to say, I think they should do their re­search very well”, the pres­i­den­tial spokesman said.

Pres­i­dent Buhari de­parted for the United King­dom on May 7 for fol­lowup con­sul­ta­tions with his doc­tors.

Re­sume or re­sign

Pro­test­ers marched in the rain in Abuja with ban­ners urg­ing the pres­i­dent to re­sume work or re­sign.

The pro­test­ers were led by Charley Boy and some lead­ers of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“Re­sume or re­sign, Nige­ri­ans say enough is enough,” one said, with others stat­ing: “If pres­i­dent Buhari can­not re­turn to Nige­ria af­ter 90 days, then he should re­sign and go home”, and “Buhari, where are you? Nige­ri­ans want full dis­clo­sure. What is wrong with our pres­i­dent?”

The peace­ful march was or­gan­ised by a coali­tion of civil so­ci­ety groups un­der the su­per­vi­sion of se­cu­rity agents.

Aisha Buhari re­turns to UK

Mean­while, the wife of the pres­i­dent, Aisha Buhari, has re­turmed to the United King­dom to join her hus­band.

Mrs Buhari re­turned to Nige­ria on Thurs­day from Lon­don and pro­ceeded to Ow­erri, the cap­i­tal of Imo State, where she at­tended the 2017 Au­gust meet­ing hosted by women in the state.

The Direc­tor of In­for­ma­tion in the Of­fice of the Wife of the Pres­i­dent, Suleiman Haruna, also con­firmed that Mrs Buhari re­turned to Lon­don on Sun­day.

Some of her staff hinted that the pres­i­dent’s wife went back to Lon­don in order to ac­com­pany her hus­band back home.

Pres­i­dent Buhari de­parted for the United King­dom on May 7 for fol­lowup con­sul­ta­tions with his doc­tors.

The pres­i­dent had as­sured that he was mak­ing progress and would re­turn to Nige­ria to re­sume his du­ties as soon as his doc­tors ad­vise.

No time limit for re­sump­tion – Falana, Ali Buhari’s

Mean­while, se­nior lawyers yes­ter­day, re­act­ing to calls for the pres­i­dent to re­sign said there is no con­sti­tu­tion time limit for his re­turn.

Speak­ing on yes­ter­day’s protest, hu­man rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) said the con­sti­tu­tion is si­lent on how long the pres­i­dent can be away on med­i­cal va­ca­tion.

“As at the time the con­sti­tu­tion was amended in 2010 it took cog­nizance of the pres­i­dent leav­ing the coun­try with­out hand­ing over hence the con­sti­tu­tion was amended com­pelling the pres­i­dent to trans­mit a let­ter to the Na­tional As­sem­bly. And once he does that, the Vice Pres­i­dent shall au­to­mat­i­cally be­come the Act­ing Pres­i­dent,” he said.

“If he does not trans­mit a let­ter af­ter 21 days, the vice pres­i­dent shall au­to­mat­i­cally be­come the pres­i­dent, ditto for the states. But as to the du­ra­tion the pres­i­dent can be ab­sent, the con­sti­tu­tion is si­lent.

“So it is there­fore hoped that the on­go­ing re­view of the con­sti­tu­tion will ad­dress that be­cause you may have a sit­u­a­tion where an elected pres­i­dent will be away for three and half years out of his four years ten­ure or even the en­tire four years ten­ure. It is a pos­si­bil­ity.”

He how­ever added that it was the mem­bers of the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) that could pass a res­o­lu­tion that the pres­i­dent can no longer dis­charge the func­tions of his of­fice, ad­ding that once it is done, a team of five med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers will be con­sti­tuted to ex­am­ine the pres­i­dent’s med­i­cal con­di­tion. He said if the team finds that the pres­i­dent can no longer dis­charge the func­tions of his of­fice, he shall be made to re­sign.

Also speak­ing, Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN) said there is no pro­vi­sion in the con­sti­tu­tion on any ac­tion if the pres­i­dent is ab­sent for 90 days. He said the re­quire­ment is that “once he trans­mits the let­ter to the Na­tional As­sem­bly, the coun­try will have an Act­ing Pres­i­dent.”

For his part, Abuja-based lawyer, Tawo Eja Tawo (SAN) said the of­fice of the pres­i­dent is not va­cant fol­low­ing the trans­mis­sion of let­ter of va­ca­tion to the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“The only time the Con­sti­tu­tion en­vis­ages 90 days is when the pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent are in­ca­pac­i­tated. Then the Se­nate Pres­i­dent would now act for 90 days and elec­tion will be con­ducted,” he said.

But Abeny Mo­hammed (SAN) said the Act­ing Pres­i­dent does not wield full pow­ers as he is be­ing ham­pered in his func­tions, ad­ding that he must seek clear­ance for what­ever ac­tion he takes.

PHOTO: Felix Onig­binde

Pro­test­ers carry plac­ards to de­mand that Pres­i­dent Mo­ham­madu Buhari re­sume work or re­sign in Abuja yes­ter­day.

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