By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJAâ€”The group of eminent Nigerian professionals which earlier called on President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to resign, yesterday said it was time to consider the impeachment option against the president.
But before that, it said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) must immediately dispatch a delegation of its members to Saudi Arabia with a mandate to demand an explanation on the presidentâ€™s state of health from the hospital authorities where he has been for more than 38 days, as it insisted that Yarâ€™Adua was not a private individual.
A statement issued by the group said it believed that the true state of health of the president has been kept secret from the public by his family and aides because they knew he was irreversibly incapacitated and could no longer continue in office.Â It dared the aides and family to prove otherwise through whatever means, including video and audio means.
The full statement by 57 members of the group reads:
”For the third time in a month, we Concerned Nigerians are constrained to speak out on the Constitutional crisis Nigeria is facing because of the refusal of President Yarâ€™Adua to hand over the leadership of the country to his Vice President when leaving the country onÂ November 23, 2009 for medical reasons as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution.
Issues at stake
”While we catalogued issues an available President would have dealt with in our second statement, recent events have exposed even further the vulnerability of Nigeria as she goes through an interregnum. These include but are not limited to the following;
I)Â A Nigerian citizen, son of a prominent Nigerian has recently been involved in an attempt to detonate an explosive device on a plane in U.S. airspace on Christmas Day. There has been no coherent response to this incident from Nigeria capable of calming the anxieties of either Nigerians or the international community because of the vacuum in Nigeriaâ€™s leadership.
II) Until a few days ago, the 2009 supplementary remained unsigned thereby putting vital programmes necessary for the economic well-being of Nigeria in limbo, and making unconstitutional, extra-budgetary spending by agencies inevitable.
”In view of the fact that the proclivities of some members of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s kitchen cabinet for contriving signatures have been catalogued in recent charges now before a London Crown Court, Nigerians should be wary of recent claims of officials purporting to have travelled to Saudi Arabia to get the Presidentâ€™s â€˜signatureâ€™ on any document. We insist that any such â€˜signatureâ€™ must be documented by a notarized and dated video recording, and a sworn affidavit by those that claimed to have witnessed the â€˜signatureâ€™.
III)Â The fragile peace in the Niger Delta has been shattered, as militants have perceived a weakness and lack of commitment in the Federal Government.Â They have therefore returned toÂ the activitiesÂ that have crippled Nigeriaâ€™s Oil and Gas industry.
IV) Violence again eruptedÂ in Bauchi,Â leading to the death of many people and has worsened the nationâ€™s image as an unstable country whose weak government is unable to maintain law and order or contain religious fanatics.
V)Â Â Regrettably, in the face of this leadership vacuum, the security agencies have redefined their jobs away from protection of the liberty, lives and property of Nigerians to political persecution and extortion, arrest and detention of journalists, and disrupting the operations of media houses and civil society organizations.
VI) The lack of a clear and undisputed leader has caused ministers to treat the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, with open disdain, flouting his instructions.Â For example, Nigerians learned with shock that the senior Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Rilwanu Lukman, took off for Austria in wilful disobedience to the Vice Presidentâ€™s directive to Ministers responsible for the energy and petroleum sectors to remain on duty in the country to tackle the fuel and energy crises crippling economic activities in Nigeria.
VII)Â Chaos looms as some persons have gone to court seeking to declare all actions taken by the Federal Executive Council since the departure of the President as null and void and ultra vires.
”Meanwhile, the Judiciary which ought to be the last hope of the ordinary Nigerian has become the laughing stock of the world. Today, Nigeria has two serving â€œChief Justicesâ€
VIII) The administration has failed to generate and transmit the promised 6,000 MW of electricity by December 2009, and failed to complete a single road construction out of 18 planned for completion in 2009.
IX)Unrestrained by any clear supervisory authority, Ministers have made utterances that embarrass the people of Nigeria and lower their repute in the eyes of right-thinking members of the global community including self-serving statements by the FEC that President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s absence has not affected governance in any way. This was an open insult to the President since if his absence has no effect on government, it inevitably means that his presence also has no effect, and that he is in fact unnecessary. Another such careless statement was one claiming that the President could rule Nigeria from anywhere in the world, in complete disregard of the fact that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of government.
In view of all this, we assert that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth. Thus the only reasonable assumption for now (and we are forced to assume only because the government has not been forthcoming with the truth) is that the President is under some form of incapacity, which forecloses implementing the transfer of power envisaged in Section 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, in gross dereliction of duty, the Federal Executive Council had earlier refused to implement Section 144 by insisting they would not ask for a medical panel to ascertain the infirmity or otherwise of the President.Â We say that this position is no longer tenable.
As we are and always will be committed to a constitutional resolution of this induced crisis, to save our country from needless anarchy, we insist that the FEC must be made to live up to its constitutional obligations, and therefore call upon the Council of State to precipitate such action by the FEC and act in the best interests of Nigeria by:
I) formally requesting the Saudi Arabian hospital authorities to provide details of the medical condition of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.Â He is not a private citizen but a public officer employed by 150 million Nigerians, and
II) Sending a delegation of its members to Saudi Arabia and determine for itself the true state of health and mind of President Yarâ€™Adua and to act in the best interest of the nation after establishing the true state of things.
If the FEC continues to refuse to act in the face of such delegationâ€™s report, its members must either resign or the National Assembly must take action to remove the President for multiple violations of the Constitution and continued absence from duty.
We make this call because all that Nigerians have been told is that President Yarâ€™Adua is in hospital in Saudi Arabia.Â We believe that he is in an infirm state and incapable of exercising the judgment needed by the President of Nigeria.Â Nigerians have neither seen him nor heard from him directly for over six weeks.Â We further believe that the reason his family and aides have refused access to him is because any sight of him will reveal to everyone that he is permanently and irreversibly incapacitated. We challenge those who dispute this to prove otherwise with immediate video and audio evidence.
These times call for all well-meaning Nigerians to sacrifice petty self-interest in favour of the nation. We appeal to our leaders not to continue to leave our democracy and sovereignty at risk because of the megalomania of a clique. Nigeria is more important than any individual or group.
Those who endorsed the statement
1) AlhahiÂ Balarabe Musa. 2) Chief Olu Falae 3) Gen. Alani Akinrinade 4) Prof. Pat Utomi 5) Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, 6) Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu 7) Hon. Olawale Oshun 8) Mr. Femi Falana 9) Engr. Buba Galadima 10) Mr. Osita Okechukwu 11) Mr. Yinka Odumakin 12) Chief Supo Shonibare 13) Barr. Sani HussainiÂ Garunâ€“ Gabbas
14) Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe 15) Ms. Ayo Obe 16) Dr. Joe Okei â€“ Odumakin 17) Ms. Annkio Briggs 18) Hajiya Najatu Mohamed 19)Â Mallam Nasir Kura 20)Alh. Muta Kabir Usman Nangogo 21) Hon. Bashir Idris Nadabo 22) Mr. Kayode Ogundamisi 23) Hon. Balarabe Wakili 24) Hon. Babatunde Ogala 25) Alh. Amitolu Shittu 26) Mallam Uba Sani 27) Mallam Saliu Lukman 28) Mr. Biodun Sowunmi 29) Ms. Roz Benâ€“Okagbue 30) Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni 31) Mallam Tanko Yunisa 32) Mr. Morakinyo Ogele, 33) Mr. Achike Chude 34) Mr. Malachy Ugwumadu 35) Hon. Sadiq Yaâ€™ adua 36) Ben Ezeagwu Esq. 37) Hon. Lawal GarbaÂ 38) Mr. Saint George â€“ Ekeh 39) Hon. ( Dr.) Ishaq Kurfi 40) Hon. Haruna Yerima 41) Hon. Uche Onyeagocha 42) Mr. Bamidele Aturu 43) Hon. Umar El â€“ Yakub 44) Prince Oye Oyewunmi.45) Mr. Supo Ojo 46) Mallam Balarabe Abbass Lawal
47) Mr. Akitoye Brancho-Rhodes 48) Reno Omokri 49) Chief Obasi Akpa Obasi 50) Alh. Kabir Yahaya. 51) Mr. Dipo Famakinwa 52) Mr. Ayo Afolabi.53) Chief John Odigie – Oyegun 54) Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe 55) Mr Odia Ofeimun.56) Prof. Ropo Sekoni, 57) Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai.