Nigeria: Lawyer Sues Buhari Over UK Vacation

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari (file photo)

A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has filed a suit against president Muhammadu Buhari at the federal high court, Lagos over his inability to hand over power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo when he travelled to London on a private visit two weeks ago.

Also named as defendant in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/763/2019, is Nigeria's Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The plaintiff asked the court to determine whether in view of the extant provisions of Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), 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 also asked the court to determine whether Buhari's action in proceeding on vacation to the UK from April 25 to May 5 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.

The plaintiff also wants the court to determine whether the president in refusing to adhere to the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 145 (1) of the constitution had not by that singular action violated his oath of office and the provisions of the constitution which he swore to uphold.

The lawyer asked the court to clarify whether the Constitution or any other law for that matter, permits the president to exercise presidential authority over the affairs of Nigeria from any country outside the territorial jurisdiction of Nigeria, save when he is out of the country on official diplomatic engagements.

The application prayed for: "A declaration that the failure of the 1st defendant (Buhari) to comply with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) by not transmitting a written declaration to the president of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect before proceeding on vacation to the United Kingdom from the 25th day of April, 2019 to the 5th day of May, 2019 is a gross violation of the Constitution."

The Plaintiff prayed the court to rule that since the Constitution does not have extra-territorial application, the president cannot exercise presidential authority over the affairs of Nigeria from the United Kingdom, or any other country outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Nigeria, save when he is outside the country on official diplomatic engagements.

He equally asked the court to restrain the president from proceeding on vacations whether within or outside the Nigeria without transmitting a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in compliance with section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

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