Radical Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has said that the legal battle to compel ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to hand over powers to his Vice, Jonathan Goodluck, as Acting President has just begun.

He spoke on the day the Chief Judge of the Federal high court, Justice Dan Abutu washed off his hands from the suit he maintained against the Attorney-General of the Federation over the issue.

He said there was no way the sick President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would remain offshore to direct the affairs of the over 150 million Nigerians on his sick bed in Saudi Arabia when the constitution specifically stated what to be done when a sitting president is unable to perform the functions of his office.

He said the verdict handed down last Wednesday by the Chief Judge of the Federal high court, Justice Dan Abutu, over the issue was useless.

He said it is so because the judgment has not only stated the obvious which no one is disputing but that it has created more problems than the solutions it was supposed to offer.

He said nobody has ever disputed the fact that a sitting President could delegate the functions of his office to either his vice or his cabinet members.

He said if anything, the judgment has stated the obvious and has not changed anything because there is still a vacuum..
Besides, he said that the issue being raised by him and his colleagues to the effect that the constitution mandated Mr President to hand over powers anytime he is unavailable to perform the functions of his office is not addressed by the Abutu judgment.

He said if the judgment were to have solved the major legal issues being raised, he told Saturday Vanguard that he would have withdrawn his case.

“I would have withdrawn my case from the court this morning but because the essential issue being raised by us has been left unanswered. Hence we are proceeding with this matter

“And we are going to take it to its logical conclusion. This is because it goes beyond the person of the President.
“Even at the state level, you know governors also do handover to their deputies.

“It was only the Court of Appeal following nullification of governorship election whereby the governors and their deputies were sent packing that we began to hear of acting governor.

“Even a governor of a state who would go on leave while his deputy was on leave could ask the speaker to take over the state in his absence.

But if we can settle this question of section 145 of the 1999 constitution, it would have implication for the state as well. “That is why this matter has to be pursued to its logical conclusion.

“My case has been strengthened by the interview credited to President Yar’Adua on the BBC where he himself, while appreciating the wishes of Nigerians categorically stated that he wouldn’t know when he would return to the country and resume  duty.

“That implies that he is presently not on duty and would not know when he is going to be on duty.

“So the constitution never envisaged that the President of Nigeria would not be in office for close to two months and yet not handover to the vice president who should man the country in an acting capacity.

“For what Justice Abutu simply said yesterday (Wednesday) which is not disputed by anybody is that the vice president can have functions of president delegated to him pursuant to section 5 of the constitution.
“That has never been in dispute in all the cases filed in court.  In fact, all of us concede to that point.

“But what I have raised in my own case is whether you can have implied delegation of duty in a constitutional matter and the decision of our court which we have alluded to in our submission is that the delegation of the statutory powers has to be in writing to avoid any abuse of power and there are a legion of cases on this.

“In fairness to Justice Dan Abutu, in the case he decided yesterday (Wednesday), he never, for one moment, said that President Yar’Adua has handed over to the vice president. He didn’t say so. He was very careful.

“No dispute has ever arisen on that matter.
“The dispute that has arisen would have to be pursued to a logical conclusion so that we can have a judicial resolution on that,” he said.

On Justice Abutu’s position that since section 5(1) and the 148 (1) did not state the manner with which Mr President could transfer or delegate his powers to the vice president or his ministers, Falana said the exercise of the powers of the president on delegated capacity could be queried by an individual contrary to what the judge said.

“The delegation of power cannot be general. It can’t be in the air.

“I am saying that even under the worst form of military dictatorship in this country where you have some penal statutes, some obnoxious decrees that stipulated,  say for instance, Decree 17 of 1984, that the appropriate authourity or specially delegated by him could sack anybody.

“The appropriate authourity was the Head of State. I handled one of the cases: Iyayi and Anya Iyayi where the Uniben authourities could not defend the dismissal of our client.

“So, they now said it was the president that did it and of course the Supreme Court asked them for the evidence?
“And so, if you say you have his powers, you must show a letter or a document that you have been authourised by the appropriate authourities.

“So it is not something that you say nobody can challenge it. “Of course, it can be challenged.

“This is because that same section that his lordship was interpreting, has not given absolute powers to the president to delegate.

“That provision itself is subject to other provisions of the constitution including the powers that the president cannot delegate.

“In fact, the opening phrase there is: “subject to the provisions of this constitution.”
“The executive powers of the federation shall be vested in the president who can exercise them directly or indirectly through the vice president, minister and other public officers.

“With what they have said yesterday (Wednesday), it is just like any minister saying yes, I am exercising the powers of the president.

“So, where is the evidence while the vice president too is claiming that yes I have the same power. So where is the evidence.

“So, the judgment has created more problems than it has solved, I can assure you,” he added..

We heard Yar’Adua’s voice, he is too weak  – Umar

Colonel Abubakar Umar  is a commentator on public and national issues and he stands his ground that the President whose voice was transmitted is very ill and cannot continue in government . He maintains it was very obvious from how  he  sounded that he cannot continue to be in office :

We have heard President Yar’Adua’s voice. This shows he is alive but his voice   equally  reveals that the man  is very  sick and incapacitated and  therefore  must handover power. His voice  proves that he is very weak and needs rest and cannot continue. It is too obvious.

We have been having protests as  a way of asking that the right thing should be done. Any good Muslim or Christian who heard his voice and really loves him should ask him to resign and go and take care of himself. We should stop punishing him by insisting he continues in  office .

If we want him to live longer, he should resign because what the voice  we  heard confirmed is that he is seriously sick and incapacitated. He must hand over.

There are no two ways about it. The National Assembly has said it would send a delegation to Saudi Arabia to go and see things for themselves but we heard him quite alright and that is the confirmation of what we have been saying. He cannot continue. We should stop being emotional or playing politics about this.

If people really love him as they claim and want him to live longer, they should ask him to resign and take care of himself.


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