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Buhari Court says only President can disclose medical bills for London trips

The judge said the president's medical bills cannot be disclosed unless he consents to it.

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Buhari  appoints Folashodun Shonubi as CBN Deputy Governor play President Muhammadu Buhari (POOL/AFP/File)

Justice John Tsoho of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ruled that the Central Bank of Nigeria does not have to make the medical expenses of President Muhammadu Buhari public if he doesn't agree to it.

The Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI) had approached the court to compel CBN to disclose the financial information relating to the cost of the president's several medical trips to London.

In a letter dated October 19, 2017, the group filed a Freedom of Information request for the financial institution to disclose Buhari's medical expenses and how much it cost to maintain his aircraft as well as his travel companions when he disappeared to London for months in 2017 to treat an undisclosed illness.

The request was forwarded to the office of the president instead, prompting ASRADI to file an application in court against the CBN and its governor, Godwin Emefiele, to honour the request. In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1142/2017, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was listed as the third defendant.

During his ruling on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Justice Tsoho said the request could not be granted without the president's express consent. He struck out the application because Section 14 (1) (b) of the FOI Act does not provide for such a personal information to be disclosed about the president without his consent, even though he's a public official.

Buhari's medical trips

In 2017, Buhari spent a combined 154 days in London on two separate medical visits to treat an undisclosed illness, prompting concerns about how fit he is for office.

Since the 75-year-old president declared to run for a second term in the 2019 presidential election, his health status is expected to be a major vulnerability for the opposition to exploit.

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