By Emmanuel Aziken &Â Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJAâ€”CONTROVERSIES trailing the continued absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua from office since 23 November, 2009, have taken a new twist, as a Form 48 was, yesterday, filed against the newly appointed Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, and the entire members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for allegedly failing to comply with an order made by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja division, Justice Daniel Abutu on 22 January, 2010.
The order directed the FEC to, within14 days, investigate and pass a resolution in line with Section 144 of the 1999 constitution, on whether or not the ailing President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office.
The Form-48, which was entered at the Registry of the Federal High Court, Abuja by a former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Farouk Aliyu, and the Chairman, Jigawa State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, Sani Gabbas, is asking individual members of the FEC to comply with Justice Abutuâ€™s order forthwith, or be ready to go to jail for contempt.
Listed on the Form entitled â€˜Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order of Courtâ€™ were 41 members of the FEC, with the new AGF, Adetokunbo Kayode, listed as number one, while his predecessor, Michael Aondoakaa came last on the list.
Others are Adamu Aliero, Ojo Maduekwe, Abba Ruma, Dora Akunyili, Fidelia Njeze, Demola Sheriki, Godswil Orubebe, Aderemi Babalola, Bello Gada, Achike Udenwa, Babatude Omotoba, Shettima Mustapha, Sam Egwu, Aishatu Dukku, John Odeh, Chuka Odom, Muktar Mansur, Jibril Maigari, Bagudu Hirse, Babatunde Oshotimehin, Ufot Ekaete, Adamu Hong, Ikra Bilbis, Godwin Abbe, Deziani Allison Madueke, Shamsudeen Usman, Rilwanu Lukman, Odein Ajumogobia, Ibrahim Lame, Rilwan Babalola, Nuhu Way, Bako Zaku, Sani Ndanusa, Ibrahim Bio, Salamatu Suleiman, Hassan Lawal, Grace Ekpiwhre, Akinlabi Olasunkanmi and Ibrahim Kazaure.
It would be recalled that the plaintiffs had earlier approached the Federal High Court to compel President Yarâ€™Adua to transmit power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan following his incapacitation and long absence.
The Chief Judge, in his judgment delivered on January 22, however, declined making such an order, maintaining that it was only the Executive Council of the Federation that could invoke its constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution to declare a sitting President incapacitated. Consequently, he gave FEC a 14-day ultimatum to make public pronouncement on the issue, an order the plaintiffs said was flouted.
Senate wonâ€™t compel FEC to declare President unfit
Meantime, the Senate resolved, yesterday, that it will not compel todayâ€™s meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, to adopt a resolution declaring President Umaru Yarâ€˜Adua incapacitated.
Disclaiming reports of a plot to impeach President Yar’Adua published in two national dailies (not Vanguard), the Senate affirmed that it stood behind its resolution of penultimate Tuesday empowering Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President of the country.
Senate President David Mark gave the Senate position while ruling on a point of order on the reported ultimatum, as published by two newspapers, giving the Federal Executive Council, FEC, until today to declare President Yarâ€˜Adua incapacitated in line with section 144 of the 1999 constitution.
Senator Dahiru Umar, PDP, Sokoto, had upon orders 14 and 18 of the Senate standing rules complained against the publications in the two newspapers which he said gave the impression that the Senate had resolved to give an ultimatum to FEC to declare Yarâ€˜Adua unfit or subject the President to an impeachment process.
Senators dismiss report as low grade fiction
Following his submission, Senators Uche Chukwumerije, PPA, Abia State; Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, PDP, Cross River South; and Olurunnimbe Mamora, AC, Lagos East, described the publications as spurious.
Senator Chukwumerije described the news report as â€œlow grade fiction, amateur and unimaginativeâ€ which diminished the image of the Senate. He said: â€œThose behind the stories in the Senate are mistaking their personal and selfish ego and interest for our collective decision.â€
Senator Ewa-Henshaw, on his part, had sought for understanding for the senators involved as he said that the senators may well have been misquoted.
Responding, Senator Bala Mohammed leader of the National Interest Group, NIG, who was quoted as one of the senators disclaimed any interview with the newspapers involved even as he maintained his stance on the issues canvassed by NIG.
He said: â€œWhatever position that is said that we have taken as National Interest Group, NIG, is a group of lobby forum, and I have no apology that we have this forum. It is not against the Senate leadership; not against anybody but in order to have a synergy of ideas.
â€œHowever, it should be appreciated that as an individual, I am free to express myself or give an opinion as a Distinguished Senator, but not to infringe on the institution of the Senate. Having said that, I am humbled by opinions expressed by some of my colleagues who doubted that this report could not have emanated from us.
â€œBut, of course, permutations in politics are coming. I donâ€™t want us to spoil the goodwill that we have given this country by coming here to blame Bala and Smart Adeyemi. Our achievement is an institutional achievement and if the Press is trying to calculate certain things and may be to pre-empt the Senate, that is a different thing. But we should not sit down here as an institution and be discussing that this is a junior senator and this is a ranking senator, no!
â€œAs I said before, the quoted statement is not my quote. And even if I had done it or Smart had done it, maybe we have done it on our personal capacities. I cannot be a spokesman of the Senate. This spokesman issue is a very controversial issue.
I have never at any point sat down and said the Senate is going to do this and be representing the Senate.
â€œSo, my distinguished colleagues, if you feel bad about it I am very sorry. But I am saying with all sense of responsibility and humility that this news is coming from somewhere that I am not aware of. But of course there are so many permutations and calculations.â€
Moved by the seeming modesty of Senator Mohammed, the Senate President ruled: â€œYou see, my stand on this matter is that the Senate had unanimously taken a decision that we believed and we still believe till tomorrow that it is in the best interest of this country. We will not do things that do not fall within our purview.
â€œWhat FEC does is their own problem, not our own. So, for all these headlines saying â€˜Senate gives 48 hours ultimatum,â€™ they are imaginations of somebody. And if the distinguished senator says he did not say so, then whoever has given out this news item is somebody who is not patriotic in this country.
â€œThe Senate will do what is in the best interest of this country. We have no right to give FEC an ultimatum; we have not given FEC any ultimatum. Why are we bothering about what FEC ought to do? We have more than enough job to do here and we are doing it well at the moment.â€