By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, Ise-Oluwa Ige, Emmanuel Aziken, Abdulwahab Abdulah, & Henry Umoru
LAGOS â€”ANGRY reactions have trailed Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Aondoakaa, SANâ€™s claim that prolonged absence of ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua does not make him unable to continue to perform his duties even as the Federal Executive Council FEC, has given him a clean bill of health.
While President of Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, described Aondoakaaâ€™s comment as a baseless argument that does not merit a response, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, referred to the AGFâ€™s pronouncement as rubbish and an insult.
Aondoakaa had said, at a media briefing after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting in Abuja, that only President Yarâ€™Adua could say whether he is still fit to continue in office.
Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN
The NBA President said: â€œThe argument is puerile It is somebody that is at his desk that canÂ perform his duty. Someone that is not at his desk can not performing his duty. And if somebody has been away for over 60 days and everybody is aware that he is ill and he, himself said â€˜Iâ€™ll return and resume my duty,â€™ that means he is not on duty.
The man said he is not on duty, so, if any other person is advancing argument that he is on duty when the man has said that he is not on duty, he is making a very puerile argument, and it doesnâ€™t need anybody to comment on it.”
Prof. Itse Sagay said: â€œThe Attorney-General has been insulting the intelligence of Nigerians. The man is just so full of himself, how can he remain Attorney General. President Yarâ€™Adua has been out of the country for 63 days and the constitution is very clear that when he is going on vacation or is unable to perform his duty he should transmit to the National Assembly a letter.
I think he is the worst Attorney General weâ€™ve ever had. He is a disgrace to the legal profession and Iâ€™m very ashamed of him. Obviously, Yarâ€™Adua, at this stage, having refused to transmit that letter and leaving this country for 63 or 64 days, has committed an act of gross misconduct, which makes him open to be impeached. Weâ€™ve not had any government.
And he refuses to allow his own Vice President, his running mate, fellow party man, to carry out his constitutional duties. Obviously it is a breach of the constitution and very great disregard for Nigeria and Nigerians. As far as Iâ€™m concerned, what Yarâ€™Adua has done can be characterised as impeachable offence.
Now, how can an executive council made up of lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, agriculturists and so on, give the President a clean bill of health? How can they be so openly fraudulent? And it is the same thing: How do I keep my job?
If Goodluck is made Acting President how am I sure he will retain me? Of course, that is the bane of Nigeria; that is what has destroyed the country. People in public office think of their own interest at the expense of national interest.”
Mr. Tani Molajo, SAN: â€œHere is an Attorney-General who celebrated the judgment which gave the Vice President the fiat to perform the functions of the President, relying on Section 5(1) of the constitution. Now, heâ€™s gone back to the position he took originally, which is that the President can govern this country from anywhere. Apart from that, there is evidence that the President has not been discharging the duties of his office because he is not in the country.”
Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, said he was not disappointed by the resolution passed by members of the Executive Council of the Federation declaring President Umar Yarâ€™Adua fit to continue governance. He said that in the first place, the council of ministers which passed the resolution never had any information on the health status of the president in view of the fact that none of them had either seen him or has access to his medical record.
Akintola said passing such resolution without any medical record stand logic on its head, adding that the provision of section 144 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution was written for sane people and not the uncivilized bunch we have in this country.
Femi Falana said: â€œMr. Michael Aondoakaa, the Attorney General of the Federation is not talking law but politics. The fact on ground has exposed the entire federal cabinet to ridicule. Whereas the minister is giving the impression that President Yarâ€™ Adua is sick to govern the country, the President himself in an interview with the BBC told the world that he is incapacitated to rule the country.
â€œYarâ€™Adua said he is expecting a tremendous improvement on his recovery process in his sickness, and that it is only his medical doctors that can say exactly when he will be fully recovered to resume duty. Therefore, the Federal Executive Council decision or the Aondoakaaâ€™s reaction should be ignored by Nigerians and they should continue to press that the President should hand over power to the Vice-President.â€
Mr Jiti Ogunye said: â€œThe decision of the Executive Council of the Federation that President Yarâ€™Adua is not suffering from permanent incapacity, and that he is, thus, in a position to continue to discharge the functions of his office, communicated to the world by the Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, is unreasonable, irresponsible and capable of instigating a subversion of the democratic process.
We will even go as far as to suggest that the statement is treasonable, for treason, in the context of the current political situation in Nigeria, is not only an act that is calculated to truncate the presidency and bring it to an abrupt end, but also every decision that is taken by or in the name of the Federal Executive Branch of Government which incites or is capable of inciting mortal hatred against the democratic system.
â€œWhile it is not in doubt that the FEC, under Section 144 of the Constitution, has the power to take the decision it has allegedly taken, there is no doubt that the decision is unreasonable. Being a decision, it is subject to the Courtâ€™s power of judicial review of all administrative and executive acts and decisions; and if the Court comes to a determination that it isÂ unreasonable, it is subject to be quashed. Every administrative or executive action is, within the context of administrative and constitutional law, subject to the test of reasonableness.”
FEC is a total failureâ€“Ken Nnamani
Former Senate President, Senator Ken NnamaniÂ toungue-lashed the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for saying that the ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™adua was not incapacitated, describing their actions as total failure of leadership. He called on FEC to immediately have a rethink of the entire scenario and do the proper thing as enshrined in the Constitution, just as he said that the decision of the ministers and other members of FEC lacked merit as it was not based on medical evidence or history of the Presidentâ€™s health condition.
According to him, the refusal by FEC to declare that President Yarâ€™Adua was incapable of exercising executive power and replace him with the Vice President, Goodluck JonathanÂ amounted to a breach of the Constitution, and was, â€œin fact, treasonable.â€
CNPP challenges FEC to produce evidence of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s medical fitness
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, charged the Federal Executive Council to publish the medical report of President Umaru Yarâ€˜Adua upon which it based its submission that the President was fit to govern the country.
CNPP in a statement, yesterday, equally challenged the House of Representatives to follow the example of the Senate in adopting a resolution to compel the President to transmit authority to his deputy, Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The CNPP statement by its national publicity secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu expressed dismay that the Presidentâ€™s handlers would want to reject the window of opportunity given the President in transmitting a letter of his absence from his duty post.
Chief Mike Okoye: â€œMy observation is that they reacted in a manner not to lose their jobs. One should say that the President is incapable to perform. It means that they as ministers will lose their seats. So, they want to preserve their office.
It is not the incapability of the President that is the issue, it is the unavailability of the President. He has to be available for the issue of incapability to be determined. Since he is unavoidably absent, in my mind, the Chief Justice of the Federation ought to proceed to swear-in Jonathan because there is a difference between incapability and unavailability.
When a person is unavailable, it means that the person is nowhere to be found and for the length of period which he has been unavailable, one would suffice to say that the same incident happened when the then Vice President, Atiku, was elevated from Governor-elect to be Vice President.â€