May 17, 2017

Constitutional Provision for vacancy in the Presidency| Adedunmade Onibokun

On the 5th of May, 2010, President Musa Yar’adua passed-on, thereby leaving the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vacant. Shortly after, President Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice President at the time, was sworn in as the President of the Federal republic of Nigeria. This action was in line with the constitutional provision to that effect.

Upon vacancy in the office of the President by virtue of any of the instances cited in the constitution, the law provides for succession.  The relevant provision of the constitution which refers to the above can be found in Section 146.

The provisions of Section 146 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) states that;
(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.
The above provision of the Constitution seeks to ensure continuity of government upon the unwelcome demise of a sitting president. Such as, the aforementioned, untimely death of President Musa Yur’adua in 2010.  In this spirit, the Constitution also provides for instances when the position of Vice President may also become vacant. Sub-section (2) provides that;

(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.
Furthermore, the constitution provides for instances when the office of the Vice President is vacant, however, the office of the President is occupied.

(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.
As stated by the Supreme Court in Bakare v. L.S.C.S.C (1992) 10 SCNJ 173;  “the constitution is the source of our Nigerian laws. The right, privileges and the protection of the citizen are derived from its provisions. The regulations and rules governing the tenure and rights of the public officer derive their authority and validity from the constitution”.

Though, President Yar’adua is the only Nigerian civilian president to pass away while in office, other heads of states include Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, General Murtala Mohammed and General Sani Abacha. 

Adedunmade Onibokun

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