By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”Two prominent Nigerians including the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s era, Hon Farouk Adamu Aliyu and a lawyer, Mr Hussaini Gabbas, yesterday asked a Federal high court sitting in Abuja to declare President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua unfit to continue with the functions of his office on medical ground.
President Yarâ€™Adua was flown out of Nigeria, 23Â November 2009, to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia where he has since been receiving medical attention for acute pericarditisÂ (inflammation of the heartâ€™s lining).
He jetted out of the country without informing both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives about his inability to discharge the functions of his office and has spent one month outside the country.
Hon Farouk and Hussaini, who are seeking a court order declaring Yarâ€™Adua unfit to continue with governance, are begging the high court, in the alternative, to issue an order compelling the Federal Executive Council to comply with the provisions of section 144 of the 1999 constitution by initiating a mandatory constitutional process with a view to passing or rejecting a resolution, declaring President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua as suffering from permanent incapacity on the account of his absence from his duty post and constitutional responsibilities for more than 30 days owing to serious ill-health.
Should either of the two prayers be granted, the plaintiffs are also requesting for a consequential order compelling Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to step into the shoes of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua and begin, with immediate effect, the performance of the functions of office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as envisaged by relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution given the circumstances surrounding Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s alleged abandonment of his presidential duties.
Their suit, which is constitutional in nature, was filed in court on their behalf by the Chambers of Mr Bamidele Aturu.
The Federal Executive Council and the Attorney â€“General of the Federation, both of whom are creations of the 1999 constitution, were named as defendants in the case.
Aturu commenced the public interest litigation in court on behalf of his client vide an originating summons since the issues involved relate to the interpretation of provisions of the 1999 constitution.
By the mode of approach of the court by the plaintiffs, the case is not likely to drag.
In the said originating summons, Aturu formulated three constitutional questions for the court to determine including:
1. Whether, having regard to the fact that the President who has not been on vacation and has been undergoing treatment at a hospital outside Nigeria in Saudi Arabia since the 23rd day of November 2009, the Executive Council of the Federation ought not to be compelled to pass and publicize a resolution as to whether or not the President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.
2. Whether the absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua from Nigeria and from his constitutional and statutory duties for medical treatment since the 23rd day of November 2009 at a Saudi Arabia hospital without being on vacation does not constitute permanent incapacity within the meaning and general intendment of section 146 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and;
3.Â Whether having regard to the circumstances surrounding the absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™ Adua from Nigeria and from his constitutional and statutory duties for medical treatment since the 23rd day of November 2009 at a Saudi Arabia Hospital, it is lawful for the Vice President to refuse to exercise the functions of the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Should the questions be answered in favour of the plaintiffs, they asked for three declaratory and two injunctive reliefs.