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FEC members risk jail over decision on Yar’Adua, says Aturu

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
A human rights activist, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, yesterday, dismissed as illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, unconscionable and a total sham, the resolution passed by the Federal Executive Council FEC, declaring President Umaru Yar’Adua fit to continue governance.

Aturu is the lead counsel representing two prominent Nigerians -the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives during President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Mr.  Farouk Aliyu and a lawyer, Mr. Hussaini Gabbas, asking him to declare President Yar’Adua unfit to continue to functions on medical grounds.

He spoke, yesterday, in Abuja, at a briefing organised by his clients. There he said arrangements had been made by his clients to jail all Yar’Adua ministers otherwise called FEC for failing to comply with the subsisting court order made on January 22,  over the resolution.

To file appeal over FEC’s decision

He added that he would file  a notice of appeal challenging the entire decision of the Abuja Federal High Court on the suit filed by his clients.

Aturu had argued that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court had, in his verdict, declared that FEC, which had been meeting on several state matters in the past, was a stranger to the 1999 Constitution and that the only body known to law was the Executive Council of the Federation which membership is listed by Section 144 (5) of the 1999 Constitution.

He said the body that met yesterday to pass a resolution on President Yar’Adua’s health was unknown to the 1999 Constitution because the meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, aides and cronies of President Yar’adua, among others, when they are not members of the Council.

Aturu added that the order of the Abuja Federal High Court was yet to be complied with and that at the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given them, he said he had been instructed to file Form 48, warning them to comply and Form 49 summoning them to explain why they should not be jailed for failing to obey the court order.

He said assuming without conceding that it was the right body that met on Wednesday, he argued that what they passed was not the required resolution because Section 44 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution does not give them the liberty to pass any contrary resolution to the effect that Yar’Adua was not capable to continue governance in view of his absence in the country for more than 65 days.

But, one of his clients and leader of the Nasarawa chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Barum-Garba, yesterday, said he expected nothing different from what FEC did yesterday.

According to Aturu, yesterday, “We are shocked to note that the Attorney- General of the Federation who was the first defendant in that case addressed the press yesterday and he claimed that the Federal Executive Council had passed the resolution to the effect that President Umaru Yar’Adua was fit to continue in office as the president of Nigeria.

“We are constrained to react to the unfortunate decision of the Executive Council of the Federation pretending to be carrying out the manifest decision of the orders from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

“Our position is that the purported resolution passed by the FEC is illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful.

‘FEC’s action unlawful, says Aturu

“It is unlawful because the express wordings of the order of the Federal High Court said that the Council should within 14 days consider, pass and publicise a resolution that the president is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.

“Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear.

“That section only has a place for the Executive Council of the Federation passing a resolution to the effect that he is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.  There is no room or place under the section for a contrary resolution to be passed.

“If the Executive Council of the Federation finds in its own wisdom that the executive president is still capable of performing the functions of his office, it cannot be a resolution. They are supposed to keep silent because the law of our country says you can only do what you are required to do by law.

“So, by purporting to pass a resolution to the effect that the president is still capable of governing Nigeria outside the shores of this country; that the president is still capable of taking the executive powers of the president to wherever he is, the FEC has acted ultra vires; the FEC has exceeded its jurisdiction; the FEC has acted unconstitutionally; the FEC has acted illegally and the FEC has acted immorally.

“For our clients, this resolution is unacceptable and our clients hereby reject it as it has no place in law or morality or in decency.

“The second point is that Section 144 (5) of the 1999 Constitution makes it clear who and who should or are members of the Executive Council of the Federation.

“That section says a reference to FEC in this section is a reference to council of ministers.

“Those who met yesterday and purportedly passed a resolution included special advisers, Secretary to the Federal Government, aides and cronies of President Umaru Yar’Adua and these people are not members of FEC. For attending, for taking part in the meeting which they held under the aegis of FEC, they have tainted the so-called resolution that was announced with glee by the Honourable Attorney- General of the Federation.”


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