President Muhammadu Buhari was granting approvals for oil deals to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, during the time he was on his sick bed in London – and when he had relinquished presidential powers to his Vice President – the head, Maikanti Baru, has indicated.
According to a Premium Times’ report, Maikanti Baru said president Buhari approved at least two separate oil contracts on July 10 and July 31 worth $1 billion and $780 million, respectively.
The N640.8 billion contracts (at N360/$ exchange rate) were approved when Mr. President was receiving treatment for undisclosed ailments in London, and when he was not supposed to be exercising presidential powers, having named Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acting president in a formal correspondence to the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that Buhari was flown to London on May 7 for medical treatment, barely two months he returned from his first 2017 medical vacation which saw him spend 50 days in the United Kingdom.
On May 9, a letter Mr. Buhari wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate notifying them that he had relinquished presidential authorities in accordance with the Nigerian Constitution was read on the floor of both chambers.
Buhari ultimately spent 103 days receiving treatment in London, returning on August 19.
On August 21, upon his return, Mr. president notified the National Assembly of his return in writing, saying he had “resumed” his “functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, 21st August 2017.”
But on Monday, Mr. Baru revealed that Mr. Buhari had been exercising presidential powers by granting approvals for NNPC joint venture contracts when he was supposedly on his sickbed and not exercising presidential powers.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has added a new twist to the story, saying he was responsible for granting authorisation to the NNPC for two oil contracts worth N640 billion.
A statement by presidential spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said Mr. Osinbajo approved the contracts in his capacity as acting president in July.
“In response to media inquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as Ag President approved recommendations after due diligence,” Mr. Akande said.