Amid controversy, prominent Nigerian lawyers reveal why Osinbajo’s acting presidency is automatic

Amid controversy, prominent Nigerian lawyers reveal why Osinbajo’s acting presidency is automatic

- Some Senior Advocate of Nigeria have said that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo remains Acting President in Buahri’s absence

- President Buhari had written the Senate about his trip to London for medical check up

- The lawyers said that Buhari’s description of Osinbajo as the person to “coordinate activities of the government” does not vitiate the constitutional provision

Senior lawyers on Wednesday May 10 have said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo automatically become the Acting President once President Muhammadu Buhari transmitted a letter to the Senate in line with Section 145(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

The Nation reports that they said the President’s description of Osinbajo as the person to “coordinate activities of the government” does not vitiate the constitutional provision.

READ ALSO: What Nigerians are saying about President Buhari's letter causing 'confusion'

NAIJ.com had previously reported that President Buhari’s May 5 letter to the Senate reads in part: President Buhari’s May 5 letter to the Senate reads in part: “In compliance with Section 145 {1) of the 1999 constitution as amended, I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London.

Prominent Nigerian lawyers reveal why Osinbajo’s acting presidency is automatic

Prominent Nigerian lawyers reveal why Osinbajo’s acting presidency is automatic

“While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government.”

To the lawyers, the wordings of the letter do not affect Osinbajo’s authority as Acting President with full executive powers.

Those who spoke included former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidents, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), activist-lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Lagos lawyer, Clement Onwuenwunor.

Section 145(1) provides: “Whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his Office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice-President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President.”

Olanipekun said there is no provision for the position of “Coordinating Officer/President/Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” in the Constitution, adding that the letter was not properly drafted.

“Prof. Osinbajo is either addressed as Vice-President or Acting President; and in the present circumstance, and not minding the crafting and language of President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly, Prof. Osinbajo automatically assumed office as Acting President by constitutional imperatives.

“He cannot be addressed as Coordinating Officer but as Acting President. Those who drafted this letter for President Buhari have not been fair to him or the nation,” Olanipekun said.

To him, Osinbajo assumed the position of the Acting President based on what the constitution dictates, and based not on Buhari’s wishes.

READ ALSO: Buhari's letter is faulty - Senator Shehu Sani insists Osinbajo is acting president

“No special favour is being done to the Vice-President by the transmission of a letter by the President to the National Assembly under and by virtue of section 145(1) of the Constitution, as that section is self-executory, meaning that on the transmission of a letter to the National Assembly, the Constitution employs the use of the word ‘shall’ to install the Vice-President as the Acting President.

“It is a constitutional appointment which takes effect from the moment the President informed the National Assembly that he was proceeding on medical leave.

“The words employed in President Buhari’s letter cannot derogate from or override the mandatory provision of section 145(1).

“Apart from this, under and by virtue of section 142(1) of the Constitution, both the President and Vice-President contested on a joint and single ticket, which is inseparable.

“Having said this, my reservation still lies in the fact that a good number of Nigerians still surprisingly hold on to the thinking that government and governance should be personalised, and that by alluding to ‘government of Nigeria’, they ignorantly zero in on individuals.

“There cannot be any vacuum in government and governance anywhere in the world, and the Constitution also states this very clearly and unambiguously in Section 142(1).

“To me, this should be the end of the discussion and debate; as there is a world of difference between a Coordinator and a constitutionally appointed Acting President,” Olanipekun said.

Agbakoba said the “controversy” created by President Buhari’s choice of words was unnecessary.

“I am concerned by the unnecessary controversy. I believe it is a distraction by politicians. The nomenclature used by the President to describe his Vice President does not matter.

“What matters to the average long suffering Nigerian is good governance. Will the Acting President create jobs; provide water, roads, electricity, food, etc. This is what is important,” Agbakoba said.

For Ali, the letter’s content is not important.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Acting President Osinbajo in closed door meeting with ex-vice president Namadi Sambo

“Once the President transmits a letter that he will be away, the Vice President by operation of Section 145 of the Constitution transmutes as Acting President ipso facto (by that very fact or act),” Ali said.

Watch this NAIJ.com video as Nigerians react to Buhari's return to London:

Source: Naij.com

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