Forces within and outside the House of Representatives failed to get the lower chamber to set up a medical panel on the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, Daily Trust has learnt.
Sources told Daily Trust yesterday in Abuja that the forces had wanted the panel to be made up of six members – one each from the six geo-political zones.
The panel was to visit President Buhari in London to determine his state of health, sources said.
The ultimate aim, the sources said, was to get a report stating that the president was incapacitated and so should “honourably resign” from office.
The president has been away on medical vacation in London since May 7.
Daily Trust gathered that the move began last month following rumours that the president was incapacitated.
According to sources, some members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House made several attempts to come up with a motion to constitute a panel, made up of medical doctors, to visit the president in London.
A source said 19 members, mostly from the South South and South East, met several times on how to come up with the motion, which would have been presented before the House embarked on its annual recess late July.
However, it was gathered that the leadership of the House, led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, resisted the move and told the members that the situation did not warrant any such action.
Responding to Daily Trust inquiry on the matter, a lawmaker said: “It is very true. 19 members from the southern part of the country were the ones meeting and spearheading the whole thing.
“In fact, one of them told me how they went about it. They signed a document regarding that, and they were poised to recruit more of their ilk.
“But Dogara was gentleman enough to stop it. He said that would never happen under his watch. He counselled them, so they couldn’t even come up with the motion on the floor of the House,” the lawmaker, who did not want to be named said.
Another source said: “Some powerful forces in the country made spirited attempts to get the House of Representatives to set up a panel of seven members: one from each of the six geo political zones to visit London to ascertain the true health of the President.
“The forces that represented powerful interests used some members of the House to approach the Speaker to constitute the committee.
“Sensing what they were up to, the Speaker told them to bring up the matter as a motion. In fact, he said they should come under a substantive motion, and you know what it means to do that.
“They pushed hard and tried to convince him that the issue does not require a motion; that it is too sensitive to table a motion on it as it may generate tension in the chamber, so he should just use his powers as Speaker to announce that the leadership has set up the panel.
But he refused. He told them that matters like this can only be decided by the whole House and as such, it should be presented under a substantive motion and will be subjected to vote by members.
“If it scaled through, the House would proceed to set up the panel. They told the Speaker that they will go and draft the motion. He never heard from them again,” another source said.
Yet another lawmaker told Daily Trust that had the movers succeeded in bringing the motion before the House, they would have “killed it.”
“The plan was that someone from one of the South South states was to present the motion. But I told them they would never succeed. I waited for the day they would bring the motion, but they didn’t up to the day we proceeded on our annual recess.
“Their aim was for Buhari to be removed as president,” the lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker also confirmed there was such a move. He said: “Yes, there was that move, even though I don’t have the full details, but I heard there was such move.
“In fact, I first heard it from some of my aides, but because the issue wasn’t that popular, it didn’t even come to the floor of the House. I think it was the leadership that stopped the movers from the very beginning.”
Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, could not be reached for reaction as his mobile phone was shut down at the time of filing this report. A text message sent to him was not responded to.
When contacted last night, House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa), said he was not aware of the matter.
But a member from Katsina State, Ahmed Babba Kaita, confirmed that there was such move but that it could not have succeeded.
“Some of us were aware that some members wanted to bring a motion on the president’s health. But no motion anyone will bring on Buhari that will succeed,” Kaita said.
What the constitution says
Section 144 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that 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 a 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 Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Section 144 subsection (2) states that “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.”