By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Chief O C J Okocha, SAN, yesterday warned that the nation might be heading towards a grave constitutional crisis and total collapse if the health problem of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua is not properly handled by relevant authourities.
President Yarâ€™Adua was flown out of Nigeria on 23 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 more than one month outside the country.
During his absence, a number of state duties having to do with release of monies for the running of government machineries which the 1999 constitution directly empowers him to do are suffering while in less than one week from today, the nationâ€™s Chief Justice, Justice Kutigi would bow out of the bench with no one to swear in his successor, Justice Katsina Iyorger Alu.
The ex-NBA Chief who sounded the warning of imminent constitutional crisis and perhaps total collapse of the Nigerian state if necessary steps are not taken yesterday also descended on the Federation Attorney-General, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, for allegedly misleading the entire world to the effect that President Yarâ€™Adua is empowered by the 1999 constitution to govern the country from anywhere in the world. He challenged Aondoakaa to point to the section of the 1999 constitution which so indicated.
Hear him: â€œThe 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is our current constitution does not make any such position.
â€œAnd I will invite the Attorney-General of the Federation to point to the section of the constitution which expressly or by necessary implication indicates that the president can exercise the duties and functions of his office from anywhere in the world outside Nigeria and in such a situation that we have in our hands when he has been out of the country for over 28 days.
â€œI donâ€™t know what law or what section of the constitution the Attorney-General is referring to and I will like him to point out to Nigerians, recognizing that he is the Attorney-General of the Federation and not Attorney-General for President Yarâ€™Adua or Attorney-General for PDP.
â€œHe should point to the section of the constitution that so indicates. â€œIn all my humble searches throughout the constitution, I have not seen such section,â€ he said.
Sympathises with Yar’Adua
He said though he sympathized with President Yarâ€™Adua over his ill-health and wished him quick recovery, he nonetheless stated that state matter is not a matter of sentiment â€œbecause what needs to be done must be done.â€
He urged the members of the National Assembly to seek legal advice on whether the absence of President Yarâ€™Adua from his duty post for more than 30 days when he is not on leave and when he had not handed over to his vice is not an impeachable offence.
He said if impeaching President Yarâ€™Adua would make Nigeria move forward, he said it would be a rightÂ step in the right direction.