President Muhammadu Buhari will not resign from office, The Presidency said yesterday.
It was in response to a call by some civil society organisations that the President should resign or return to work.
President Buhari has been in the United Kingdom since May 7 for a follow-up appointment with his doctors.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu told reporters at the State House that the President had not breached any law.
He said: “They are exercising their rights in line with the constitution of this country. Of what use or value is a democracy in which citizens cannot embark on peaceful protests? So we respect their right to convene or undertake peaceful protest.
“On the second issue, whether the President should resign or disclose or whatever, I think they are stepping outside the laws of this country.
“Anyone conversant with the constitution of this country will have noticed or seen that Mr President has complied 100 per cent with the requirements of the constitution..
“He has handed over power to the Vice President, relying on the constitution and the Vice President is carrying on with the affairs of this country; he is undertaking activities of government in line with the constitution in a way that the President himself has given words of commendation.
“So the President has not breached any law. What he has done is perfectly in line with the constitution of this country and people are looking for things to say. I think they should do their research very well.”
In a statement later, Shehu added: “I wish to respond to media enquiries following demonstration by a few citizens this morning in Abuja. The demonstration is in the exercise of their freedom under the constitution, which guarantees their right to embark on peaceful protests.
“There is nothing like a power vacuum in the country, given the competence and general harmony with which the whole government is running.
“Any such calls as being made by this or any other group represents an irrational assault on the constitution and should be ignored by well-meaning members of the public.
“The need of the hour for this country is to rid it of corruption, reform and reinvigorate the economy and to fight crime and insurgency.
“The government is busy with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure all over the country. It is creating jobs for the unemployed. It has set its sight on the larger picture of the country’s development; investing in rail and power projects and redeeming the country’s image from the mountains of corruption scandals that have marred it. We will not, therefore, be distracted by this or any other groups.”
It was learnt yesterday that the President’s wife, Hajia Aisha Buhari, left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on Sunday.
Mrs Buhari, who returned from the UK last week, had on several occasions, insisted that her husband was recovering fast and would soon return to the country.
Although there was no official statement on Mrs Buhari’s trip, some officials in the Presidency confirmed it.
In Abuja, the coalition of civil society groups demanded the return of President Buhari from his medical leave or resign.
It also urged the National Assembly to invoke Section 144 sub Section 4 of the Constitution and set up a medical panel to determine the President’s health status.
Convener of the protest Deji Adeyanju, expressed regret on whay he called “the failure of the National Assembly to launch an investigation or set up a panel to look into the true status of the President Buhari’s health”.
Adeyanju said: “The leadership of the National Assembly must choose between the Nigerian people and the cabal. 90 days is too long for a president to be away from his country without any explanation to the people that voted him into office.
“If Buhari had become incapacitated, he should do the honourable thing and resign because he cannot continue to hold the country to ransom; his absence in the country is being exploited by a cabal to loot the treasury.”
He added: “We hereby demand that the National Assembly invoke Section 144 sub Section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution and direct the setting up of a medical panel in conjunction with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to ascertain whether the President is incapacitated.”
A leader of the group and member, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said the Federal Executive Council should disclose to Nigerians the nature of Buhari’s illness.
Protesters led by artiste Charles Oputa (Charlie Boy), defied the early morning showers and walked from the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja to the Presidential Villa junction to demand the return of the President.
The protest was spearheaded by the National Coordinator, Foundation For True Freedom and Good Leadership, Deji Adeyanju; Publicity Secretary, #OurMumuDonDo Movement, Adebayo Raphael; Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; and Secretary of Concerned Nigerians, John Danfulani.
The movement said it would continue with daily protests in Abuja and London to press for the return of the President.