Presidency May Not Reinstate Suspended SGF, NIA Boss

The Presidency has ruled out the possibility of reinstating the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who were both suspended from office recently.

A source in the presidency told SUNDAY PUNCH in Abuja on Saturday that they were both indicted in the report of the presidential investigative panel that probed them.

The source explained that the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, who is the chairman of the panel would have presented the report to President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday but for the President’s journey to London for medical consultation.

The source, who is conversant with the arrangement, told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that in case Buhari tarries in his return to the country, Osinbajo will act on the report and a decision would be made public soon.

He said the decision to make the report public was arrived at before the President travelled.

The source added, “The panel’s report was ready since last Wednesday. It was the formal presentation that was fixed for Monday. That has been overtaken by event with the President’s journey.

“Before the President travelled however, he met with the Acting President on many issues, including this one in question.

“An understanding was reached on the position to take. That decision will soon be made public. It is just a matter of time.

“The President can return any time. The Acting President can also announce the decision in case the President did not return on time.”

When asked if it is appropriate for Osinbajo who led the panel to be the one that will implement the report, the source said, “He chaired the panel as the Vice President and now, he is the Acting President. Besides, the decision was arrived at in consultation with the President. It is a government decision.”

When further asked if there was any possibility that Oke and Lawal might be given a clean bill of health, the source said, “as a matter of fact, their case is a done deal.”

The Senior  Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, could not be reached on the telephone for comment as of the time of filing this report .

The Osinbajo panel also had the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as members.

The panel investigated allegations of violations of law and due process made against Lawal in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North-East, while it probed Oke on the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, for which NIA is laying claim.

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East had also indicted the suspended SGF on the same matter.

The panel was said to have considered the Senate report alongside its own investigation in arriving at a conclusion on Lawal’s case.

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Osinbajo: Who is Scared Of A Professor? By Eniola Opeyemi

The rise and rise of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, no doubt has shown the result of Hardwork and loyalty, giving hope not only to the academia but also to professionalism in the nation. Nigeria’s political terrain have harbored the best script writers, actors and actresses whose precedent have put the nation as one of the politically tensed country in the world, owing to the sectionalism, evidential that we are divided across various beliefs.

Professor Oluyemi “Yemi” Oluleke Osinbajo (born 8 March 1957) is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is the current Vice President of Nigeria, in office since 29 May 2015. He is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor of Law and until his inauguration as Vice President, a Senior Partner with SimmonsCooper Partners, a commercial law practice.

Osinbajo a key player in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s ?led administration, saving the former military head of state of major crises to put the economy and the unity of the nation back on track, while Buhari’s absence has kept the rumor mill spinning, his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, has been quietly effective in addressing some of the crises affecting the country. Among other things, the 60-year-old former lawyer has met with stakeholders in the volatile yet oil-rich Niger Delta and addressed protesters demanding economic reform and an end to government corruption.

The Redeemed Christian church of God pastor has not shied away from difficult topics. The vice-president has visited the Niger Delta, the country’s oil hub, and tackled the issue of militancy head on. Osinbajo has said that young men in the region must be “properly engaged” to stop them falling into militant groups or participating in illegal refining of crude oil. Osinbajo also confronted rare public demonstrations in Lagos and the capital Abuja earlier in February, where hundreds of protesters decried the state of the country.

Nigeria’s economy is struggling to become less dependent on oil—which makes up more than 70 percent of GDP—while various security threats continue to plague the country. These include the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast: the group has been largely contained by Nigerian and regional military forces, but continues to launch guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings on a not-infrequent basis.

Earlier in 2017, Osinbajo met with protesters who marched on the presidential villa in Abuja and put out a reassuring statement. “To those who are protesting…we hear you loud and clear. You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier,” said Osinbajo.

The cabals influence in Nigeria’s politics can’t be underrated as they perform more functions behind the scene than most elected and appointed officials,  some of these cabals surrounding the President has constantly choose to put the Vice-president under their control, owing to avoidance of seeing him overshadow their prowess in the affairs of the nation. But rarely would you see Osinbajo comment on this, showing maturity, professionalism and the figure he presents in the church, consequently, the vice – president have continually pay his loyalty to his boss which have payed off over his continous popularity waxing stronger in the Nigeria’s political scene.

Just recently, the powers around the President prove to have something hidden as regards the Vice – President, in every political and non – political setting, it is expected that the deputy acts in the absence of his/her boss, hence, it’s another scene here in the country. The President’s letter to the senate notifying the hallowed chamber of his medical trip has causes stir among the people of the nation, kudos to the leadership of the senate for preventive measures to put the matter to rest. In his letter to the National Assembly, to inform the lawmakers of his medical leave and to transmit power to his deputy, is generating controversy.

Buhari had stated that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would coordinate the affairs of the nation while he was away instead of writing that Osinbajo would act as the President.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, at the plenary read the letter from Buhari, informing the legislature of his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

?The letter read, “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. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

‘‘While I am away, the Vice-President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

By this letter, it’s a clear indication that there are powers that are willing to sabotage the constitution because of the fear of Osinbajo who has done no wrong in wishing his boss success, hitherto, there I need to beef up security around the scholar so as not to play foul in the hands of the saboteers.

Nigeria would be great irrespective of the tribe or powers that make, so there is no need to be scared of a professor.

Eniola Opeyemi writes.
eniolaopeyemi@gmail.com

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Buhari’s Letter vs The Law; Acting President or Coordinator? By Baba Isa

President Buhari’s letter to the Senate has opened a debate. Some persons are of the opinion that it wasn’t properly worded, that what the letter made the Vice President was a mere coordinator not an Acting President.

Is this true?

First, let’s look at President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly.

“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. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

– President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly

Now let’s dissect the wordings of this letter with the scalpel of the Constitution, the highest law of the land.

  1. Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states thus: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

Pause. Read that section again. Have you? Because most people who are making a mountain of the President’s letter are those who are neglecting to grasp the import of this section.

All the president’s letter has to say or needed to say or required by the Constitution to say is that he will not be available. The letter has no power to say what the Vice President will become in the president’s absence; the constitution has already said that.

Any such letter from any president is simply to state that the president will not be available to discharge his duties and why. Buhari’s letter above did that. Any other thing is superfluous. But as usual, we are distracted by the superfluous.

Whatever the president’s letter said the vice president will become is null and void if it is not in tandem with the constitution. In the absence of the president the Constitution is clear on who will take over and in what capacity. It is the Vice President that will take over as Acting President. QED. The president has no constitutional powers to name any other person or group of persons to take over; he also has no powers to assign a nomenclature by which the Vice President will be called in his absence. The constitution says he will be known as “Acting President”. Period.

We are giving the letter too much importance. The letter cannot override the constitution. No law in this country can override the constitution. So assuming without conceding that the said letter is at variance with any section of our Constitution, the letter will be null and void and the Almighty Constitution will prevail.

  1. We are not in the Yar’adua era anymore. The Constitution has been amended after that saga. Section 145 now has a new subsection 2. Let’s look at it “In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mention in subsection (1) of this section within 21 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of votes of each house of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice President to perform the functions of the office of the President as the Acting President until the President transmit a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is now available to resume his functions as President.”

That’s it. The letter is not that important anymore. In the absence of the President, with or without him transmitting a letter to the Senate, the Vice President will eventually be mandated to Act as President. Point is, don’t lose sleep over a letter. The Yar’dua days are long gone.

  1. Please go back and read the President’s letter to the Senate as captured above. Done that? Good. Now, to be fair to the President, is there really anywhere in that letter he said that the Vice President will assume the office or carry out the functions or take the title of a coordinator, whatever coordinator? Check again. The truth is, the letter never said that. The president knows he has no power to say that. If he had said that it would have been null and void as I pointed out earlier. But the truth is Mr President never said that in his letter. Please.

“While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of government” is different from saying he will be a coordinator not an Acting President.

The President even said in his letter: “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform…” The President’s letter directed the Senate and Nigerians to the Constitution to get the full meaning of his letter. Why are we refusing to go there? The President by referring us to the constitution in his letter, agrees that the words of the Constitution are more powerful than the words of his letter. If anyone is just trying to construe words out of the letter while refusing to look at the words of the Constitution concerning the issue, then such a person is just being mischievous for political reasons. Or maybe it’s just deliberate and willful ignorance.

  1. And yes, one of the functions of the President is to coordinate the activities of government. It’s in the Constitution.

See what section 148(2)b says, look out for the word “coordinate”: “(2) The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of-

(b) CO-ORDINATING the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

So, if the Vice President assumes the office and functions of the President as Acting President he is also mandated by the Constitution to be “Co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

You see, so much ado about nothing.

In a country where governors travel without transmitting powers to their deputies, where a sitting President shut down this country when he went for medicals abroad, President Buhari should me commended for always transmitting powers to his Vice. You might have your issues with the Buhari administration but we should never miss opportunities like this to teach ourselves the ropes of governance and the law.

First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.

07037162029

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo Presides Over FEC Meeting

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja

The meeting started around 10:00 a.m. when Osinbajo called for the rendition of the National anthem.

All FEC meetings since President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Nigeria on March 10 commenced by 11:00 a.m.

But Wednesday meeting, which followed the President’s latest medical trip to the United Kingdom, started at 10:00 a.m. with many ministers still absent when it commenced.

The Nation

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Senate Affirms Buhari’s Letter, Says Osinbajo Is Acting President

What could have resulted in a major constitutional crisis over the medical leave embarked on by President Muhammadu Buhari was averted in the Senate on Tuesday.

It centered on the ambiguity in President Buhari’s letter informing the Senate that he was proceeding on a follow up medical leave to London, United Kingdom.

Relying on Section 145 of the Constitution which was also quoted in President Buhari’s letter, the Senate said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is Acting President since there is no provision for Coordinating Vice President in the Constitution.

President Buhari had in letter dated May 5, 2017 which was read by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, informed the Senate that he would be away for a scheduled medical follow up with his doctors in London.

The President also told the Senate that while he was away, the vice president will “coordinate activities of the government.”

He said the length of his stay in London will be determined by his doctor’s advice.

The letter read “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.

“The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

“While I am away the vice president will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept the distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Hardly had Saraki concluded reading the letter when Senator Mao Ohuabunwa queried the wordings of the presidential letter through a Point of Order.

Ohuabunwa, who represents Abia North Senatorial District, noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has no provision for a coordinating president of a coordinating vice president.

He said the presidential letters to the Senate, the highest legislative body of the country “should be direct and unambiguous.”

Ohuabunwa said, “Whenever the President transmits to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or otherwise that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such function shall be discharge by vice president as acting president.

“Mr. President I don’t think in our constitution we have anything like coordinating president or coordinating vice president.

“It is either you are vice president or you are acting president and any letter should be unambiguous and very clear.

“So, am saying that this letter really does not convey anything because coordinating has no space or any place in our constitution.

“We have been having letters like this and you tell us who is the acting president and we know who to deal with as a Senate.

“This is the highest legislative body of the country and if you are sending us letter, it should be direct and unambiguous. So, I am saying that this letter for me is not right and maybe should be sent back.”

Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, disagreed with the Point Order and asked the Senate to disregard it.

Lawan noted since President Buhari cited Section 145 (1) of the Constitution in the letter, he was very clear on who should act in his absence.

The Yobe North lawmaker said any other word contained in the presidential letter was irrelevant.

Lawan said, “Mr. President, let me say that the Point of Order raised by my colleague and the explanation that subsequently followed shouldn’t have been.

“I still rely on the first paragraph of that letter which Mr. President wrote to this Senate and read by the President of the Senate and I will read section (145) which reads whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation…”

“Àny other word in this letter or indeed anywhere else is irrelevant. I therefore feel that Mr. President has done what the constitution requires him to do and I urge this Senate not to go ahead to discuss this because it is not an issue.”

The Nation

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo Congratulates President – Elect Of France

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his election as the next President of France.

In a congratulatory letter to the President-elect, Prof. Osinbajo said he received the news of the election of the 39-year old Macron with satisfaction, noting that under successive governments, the relations between Nigeria and France had blossomed.

The Acting President expressed the optimism that the incoming government will further strengthen the bond of friendship between both countries.

Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Acting President, there has been a very close collaboration between Nigeria and France in the war against terror and he commended the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism.

Prof Osinbajo observed that Macron’s election is a source of inspiration especially for the French people and portends a greater future in which the French Republic will continue to play its active role boosting relations with Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.

The Acting President then noted that the Buhari administration is looking forward to working closely with President-elect Macron to promote international cooperation, advance peace and security, consolidate mutual trade relations and strengthen economic partnership for the benefit of citizens of both countries.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President

Office of the Vice President

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