Court dismisses suit seeking to bar Nigerian President from foreign medicals

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Vincent Adodo, seeking, among others, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from embarking on foreign medical travels for the purpose of seeking medical treatment, checkups, or investigations.

Delivering judgement on January 8, 2024, in the suit marked _FHC/ABJ/CS/2138/2022 between Vincent Adodo v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, & 6 Ors, His Lordship, Hon. Justice J.K. Omotosho, in dismissing the suit, held that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to file the suit.

On page 30 of the certified true copy of the judgement, Justice Omotosho held that: “the plaintiff is not the Attorney General of the Federation or of a State who is empowered to bring actions to protect the rights of the public.

“The plaintiff cannot arrogate to himself the powers he lacks. Therefore, this suit is bound to be dismissed for lack of locus standi of the plaintiff.”

Recall that former President Muhammadu Buhari had embarked on several foreign medical trips without transmitting a written declaration of his absence to the National Assembly, which would have empowered the Vice President (then Prof. Yemi Osibajo, SAN) to act as President.

On October 31, 2022, President Buhari proceeded to London for medical treatment without transmitting a written declaration as provided by Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which necessitated the filing of the suit by the lawyer.

The lawyer also contended that under Section 46 of the National Health Act 2014, “the President of Nigeria, being a public officer, is not entitled to enjoy medical treatment, check up or investigations abroad at public expense unless there is a recommendation by the medical board approved by the Minister of Health.”

The Court in upholding the argument of the Attorney General of the Federation, held that the President was not a public officer as defined by section 18 of the Interpretation Act, and thus Section 46 of the National Health Act was inapplicable to the President.

The judge further held that the plaintiff had failed to provide any evidence that the recommendation or referral by the medical board was not granted to the President.

In the final analysis, the Court dismissed the suit and held that the plaintiff did not process his entitlement to the reliefs sought from the Court.

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