The president has a deadline of February ending, says Adegboruwa
Human rights activist and lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa said President Muhammadu Buhari is entitled to 60 days annual leave, and as long as he has not exhausted the leave, the controversy over his absence not necessary. He spoke to GODWIN DUNIA.
How long can the President stay away from office?
Legally, the President is entitled to 60 days annual leave from 2015 to 2016. If he has not exhausted this leave prior to this time, he is entitled to his annual vacation. But I am aware that the President has in times past, enjoyed part of his annual leave, in 2016, when he first traveled for alleged ‘ear infection’.
As it is now, the President has not disclosed to Nigerians that he is on annual leave, but what he did was to convert his annual leave to medical leave, which he has now stated to be indefinite. Generally, the Senate should not allow the President such indefinite period of leave, given the sensitive nature of his office. Once it is impossible to determine definitively, the period of days to be spent by the President, whether on annual vacation or medical vacation, what that translates to in law is that the President has given indication of his inability to perform the functions of his office, leaving Nigerians with no other choice than to replace him immediately, with the Acting President as the substantive President.
It is indeed very unfortunate that the President is ill and we cannot grudge him the right to have his treatment, as no one can play God in the area of illness. But if the illness of the President is of such a nature as to make it impossible for him to perform the functions of his office, then there cannot be a vacuum in that office. The fact that there is an Acting President will not suffice. A President of a sovereign state as Nigeria cannot be allowed to abscond his duty post under the guise of medical vacation. In this case, the President has turned himself into some form of tourist attraction, whereby, he has turned his abode into an alternative government house, where who-is-who in Nigeria now troop to, giving room for speculations and vacuum in governance.
At what point will section 144 come into play?
If by the end of February 2017, the President is unable, for reason of ill health, to resume his normal duties as President, then the Senate should proceed to invoke the provisions of section 144 of the Constitution to declare his seat vacant, so that the Vice President will officially step into the position of President. This is because we cannot afford the Yaradua scenario again in this country, whereby; those who were not elected into office by the people of Nigeria are the ones to be ruling us by proxy, on account of the prolonged absence of the President.
What circumstances determine that a president is incapacitated?
The facts surrounding the President’s absence presently is a great indictment of the administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is daily turning to be a Congress of deceivers and abusers of the rights of the people. It is inconceivable that Nigeria would have got to this ugly stage of deliberate deception and manipulation. It is thus unacceptable that we should be forced to put up with this situation, which should easily be remedied by the APC, since the President and the Vice-President are from the same ruling party.
Does it appear to you that the President is holding the nation to ransom?No! Nigeria currently does not need this distraction presently, given that we are battling with sundry economic challenges and indeed very serious national issues begging for urgent attention. So, I urge the National Assembly to do the needful by empowering the Vice President, if by the end of February 2017, the President is unable to resume his normal duties to perform the functions of his office as President.