The Senate, on Tuesday, came in strong defence of President Muhammadu Buhari and maintained that he has not bridged any section of the constitution by extending his medical vacation period in the United Kingdom (UK).
The President had on the 18th of January, 2017, written to the Senate and requested for a ten-day working leave. Without much ado, the Senate approved the leave request.
Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, who briefed Senate Correspondents on Tuesday, said since President Buhari has written a new letter to lawmakers, informing them of his leave extension, there was nothing unusual about it.
Sabi noted: “As you are aware, the Senate suspended plenary to carry out one of the most important duties which is the interaction with the MDAs on the 2017 budget. You will recall that before we suspended plenary, we received a letter from Mr President which was dated 18th, January 2017, where he informed the Senators that he was proceeding on his vacation for 10 days and this is to meet the constitutional provisions.
According to Sabi, “In the letter, he stated very clearly that the Vice President will take charge of the running of the country. This is a normal thing. Now, we are in receipt of the second letter from Mr President where he is informing the senate that he is extending his vacation and this arose because in the first letter, he informed us that he will use that opportunity to see his doctors.
“In this second letter, he is informing the Senate that he is extending his vacation because in the cause of that routine medical checkup, there were still some tests his doctors still want to run further and so because of that, he is extending his stay.”
Speaking specifically on the constitutionality of the extension of the President’s leave, Senator Sabi added: “This is a constitutional provision and let me say it is within his prerogative to do so and we are in receipt of that letter accordingly. This is why we had to brief you so that we will confirm that we are in receipt of that letter formally and we know that many things have been going on, but this is our formal and official pronouncement to Nigeria on this particular subject matter.
“The President did not say indefinite, because indefinite is taking the matter out of context. But then, he said he is extending it beyond the 10 days he has asked for and because the tests that are going to be carried out are not in his hand, he is not giving us a date.”
Sabi said the constitution did not specify on the number of days the President can take as his leave. He said: “I am not sure if there is any provision giving specified date for the leave of Mr President. At least, not to my knowledge. This is not the first letter Mr President will be communicating to us. Are you saying that if we received a letter from Mr President and we say we received a letter from Mr President we do not know what we are saying?”
He also revealed that the Senate will not recall members over the President’s health. “There is no emergency for us to say we are suspending the ongoing budget defence to recall our people back. When we resume, all communications that came in will be taken. There is no emergency here because he has done what he is constitutionally mandated by him to transmit a letter to us and he has done that.
“Let me tell you the letter was received by the Senate President and I was briefed today. As at today, the letter is in the hands of the Senate President,” he said.
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