A pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, has called on the National Assembly to amend Section 144 of the constitution, which deals with the incapacitation of the President and Vice President. The call was made in a statement jointly signed by Messrs. Deji Adeyanju and John Danfulani, Convener and Secretary of the group respectively.
The statement drew attention to a provision of Section 144 of the constitution, which stipulates that the President or Vice President will cease to remain in office if, by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of the Federal Executive Council, he or his deputy is declared as incapable of discharging the functions of office and if such a declaration is verified by a medical panel, which submits its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The group contended that the provision is not only anti-people provision, but also goes against common reasoning.
"How can the Vice President, who is in acting capacity, initiate the process of impeachment alongside other appointees, who are ministers of an incapacitated president? It is a known fact that ministers appointed by a president into the Federal Executive Council will naturally be loyal to the president who appointed them," argued Concerned Nigerians.
The group stated that as things stand, Nigeria cannot make progress because of this constitutional provision, as a supposedly incapacitated President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be declared unfit to hold office because his appointees are still loyal to him.
"The Constitutional Amendment Review Committee exercise must amend Section 144 sub-section 1a in tune with our current political reality by ensuring that only the National Assembly is constitutionally mandated to initiate the entire process of declaring the President and Vice President incapacitated on grounds of ill health. Since democracy is about the people and the people alone, our laws must not protect any individual no matter how highly placed he is," the group further said.
It argued that Section 144 (sub-section 1a) shields an incapacitated president from being declared unfit to hold office. It called on the Constitution Review Committee to immediately amend the section in order to save the country from a constitutional crisis.