Court Orders FEC to Pass Resolution On Yar'Adua...

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Still in the euphoria of illegality and constitutional breach that pervades the exit of Umaru Yar'adua from the seat of power for 2 months, owing to the treatment he is receiving abroad over his heart condition and other undisclosed terminal ailments; the Federal Executive Council has been ordered by the Federal High Court to consider a resolution on President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's state of health in line with section 144 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria within 14 days from today (Jan 22).

The presiding Judge, Justice Dan Abutu delivered the judgment on the suit filed by a former minority leader of the House of Representatives, Farouk Aliyu, challenging the continued absence of President Yar'Adua from office. Reacting to the judgment, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa sarcastically said the judgment/ruling of the court will be 'complied with'.

"We will abide by the judgment of the court. The Executive Council of the Federation will within 14 days, as directed, consider a resolution on the state of the president's health," said Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa. He further said that a five-man medical team which includes the president's personal physician will be raised to examine the status of the president's health.

Lawyers, litigants and members of the public at the federal high court waited for the verdict in a suit filed by a member of an opposition party, Farouk Aliyu to challenge the long absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua. Aliyu, a former federal lawmaker asked the court to determine whether the long absence of the President constitute permanent incapacity and unlawful for the President to rule from outside the country.

Aliyu's lawyer said that Nigerians must now appeal to the Cabinet to act in accordance with the court order. "We filed this case so that we can save our country from anarchy, from chaos and from constitutional crisis," said Aliyu's lawyer, Bamidele Aturu. In a judgement that lasted about 70 minutes, Justice Dan Abutu said that the court has no power to declare the President incapacitated and that the body vested with such power, according to section 144 of the 1999 constitution is the Executive Council of the Federation.

The Court ruling is directed to determine whether the President is capable of discharging the functions of his office. "The court is directing the Cabinet to convene and pass a resolution to determine whether the president is still fit to run the office," Abutu said, adding that it is not in the court's power to make a final decision on the president. He ordered the executive council of the federation to, convene within fourteen and pass a resolution on whether the president is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.Lawyer to the plaintiff, Bamidele Aturu however expressed reservations with the judgment of the court.

The Federal Executive Council had met on December 22 out of their selfish and greedy tendencies passed a resolution that although the president is undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, he has been steering the ship of the state, a statement which everyone knew was full of deception and sheer insincerity at the expense of the good people of Nigeria.Reacting to the judgement, the Attorney General of the Federation who is the first defendant in the lawsuit promised that the government will abide by the outcome of the lawsuit. The lawsuit is one of the lawsuits filed to challenge the absence of the President. Justice Abutu is to give a verdict in another while the litigant for the third suit requested that the suit be transferred to another court for fear of bias.

President Yar'Adua has been in Saudi Arabia for almost two months, receiving treatment for a heart condition known as acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. His absence has raised concerns about a power vacuum in the country, with reactions from different groups, calling for a report on the true state of the President's health, and a call for him to hand over power to the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan. In a previous ruling also delivered by Justice Daniel Abutu, the court ruled that the Vice President should exercise his duties as the Acting President pending the President's return from Saudi Arabia stating that the Vice President cannot therefore become the Acting President but can only carry out the functions of the president in his absence which he has been doing and should continue to do so as enshrined in section 5 (1) of the 1999 of the Constitution.

Arguably the Vice President has been exercising authority especially in pressing issues of the state, like the recent violent upsurge in Plateau State where he ordered Military troops to move in to the city and tame the crisis. The opposition has questioned whether he is legally able to deploy troops, saying the constitution gives only the President that authority as commander-in-chief. It would be recalled that after the death hoax of Yar'adua, Nigeria's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Aminchi, said a week ago that Yar'Adua was expected to be discharged from hospital very soon after showing significant recovery, there has been no word on when he might return and what his true state of health is at the moment. Owing to that it has been widely speculated that the President is in Yemen and not Saudi as claimed by Yar'Adua's loyalist, Nigerians are still keeping their fingered crossed even as events unfold

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