Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A Nigerian based in the United States of America, Mr. Toyin Dawodu, has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to appoint a medical panel to determine the health status of ailing President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had left the country for the United Kingdom since May 7, 2017 for a medical vacation.
But the details of the President’s ailment and condition have been kept away from Nigerians.
In his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2017 and filed on June 28, Dawodu urged the court to declare Saraki as empowered by the Nigerian Constitution to set up a medical panel to determine Buhari’s health status “without first being a resolution of the Executive Council of the Federation.”
Section 144(1) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that such a medical panel should be appointed by the Senate President following a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of the members of the Executive Council of the Federation.
But the plaintiff, through his counsel, Frank Tietie, contended in the suit that “in the absence of a resolution by the Executive Council of the Federation” as required under section 144(1) of the Constitution, the Senate President could constitute such medical panel “to determine the health status of the President.”
The respondents to the suit are Saraki, the Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).
While he prayed the court to direct the Executive Council of the Federation to convene a meeting to vote on a resolution on the medical fitness or incapability of President Buhari to discharge the functions of his office, he also prayed for an order directing the Senate President to set up a medical panel to investigate the President’s health.
His prayers read in part, “A declaration that the 1st Respondent, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is empowered by Section 144(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Altered) to appoint a Medical Panel to determine the health status of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, without first being, a resolution of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) on the medical fitness or incapability of President Muhammadu Buhari to discharge the functions of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
A supporting affidavit deposed to by a lawyer, Otika Stephen, in the law firm of the plaintiff’s lead counsel, described Dawodu as a US-based Nigerian.
The affidavit, however, stated that “the plaintiff is a registered voter in Nigeria. A copy of the applicant’s voter card is herein annexed and marked as Exhibit A”.
It stated that Dawodu was not against Buhari but decided to institute the suit in the public interest.
It also stated that Buhari’s health status was of national concern and that when his illness could no longer allow him to discharge the functions of his office, “it would be in the national interest to advise him to resign.”
The affidavit, however, added that the Federal Executive Council “is unlikely and unwilling to exercise its constitutional responsibility of determining by resolution” the status of the President’s health.
It stated that with President’s handing over to the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, as acting President, he (Osinbajo) “is fettered even in his capacity to fully discharge the functions and responsibilities of the office of the President.”
It said it was therefore important to determine the health status of Buhari and the nature of his illness “in order to advise him to either resign or be impeached.”
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Source: The Punch