Buhari’s Health: Here’s what Sections 144, 145 And 146 of the 1999 Constitution says about his absence


The continued absence of the President Buhari from the country continues to cause discord among Nigerians and various protests like the recent #ResumeOrResign continues to spring up.

Truth is most Nigerians are confused and not quite aware of what the Nigerian constitution says about a situation like this. 

A little research  by One of our readers shows that section 145 of the 1999 constitution says that, ‘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’.

Truth is, President Buhari did send a letter to the senate before embarking on his medical leave, the constitution however did not specify a time limit for his absence

To understand it better, here’s what Sections 144, 145 And 146 of the 1999 Constitutionsays below…

144. (1) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if – 

(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and 

(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation. 

(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. 

(4) the medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:- 

(a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and 

(b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.

(5) In this section, the reference to “executive council of the Federation” is a reference to the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, howsoever called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct.

145. 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. 

146. (1) The Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of this Constitution. 

(2) Where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) of this section during a period when the office of Vice-President is also vacant, the President of the Senate shall hold the office of President for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new President, who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office. 

(3) Where the office of Vice-President becomes vacant:- 

(a) by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in accordance with section 143 or 144 of this Constitution; 

(b) by his assumption of the office of President in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; or 

(c) for any other reason, 

the President shall nominate and, with the approval of each House of the National Assembly, appoint a new Vice-President.

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