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Yar’Adua’s Absence And Issues Of Constitution

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On November 23, 2009, President Umaru Musa yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. It is now over 50 days and the President has not yet returned or written to the National Assembly in accordance with the constitution.

The President long absence has been attributable to the nature of his ill-health. In his physician’s statement, President Yar’Adua suffered from acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the linning surrounding the heart.

The long absence of the President has apparently heightened the apprehensions of Nigerians over the nation’s political direction and foreign policy especially in the face of united States listing Nigeria on a terriorist watch.

The unending debate over the appropriate procedure to be followed by the President before travelling out for medical treatment has remained unabated with Nigerians having divergent opinions.

Going by the 1999 constitution, the President has the obligation to write to the National Assembly for official leave, thus empowering the vice President to act pending full recuperation.

But the President has not done that resulting in different political permutations.

This flaw has given room to various political groups and eminent citizens calling for strict adherent to the provisions of the constitution. A group of legal practitioners under the auspices of lawyers of conscience have given the President till January 31 to resign or be removed by the National Assembly failing which Nigerians will be mobilized by the group to take their destiny into their hands by any legitimate means possible.

As ministers in the temple of Justice, they have a statutory obligation to critically examine the provisions of the relevant sections 144 and 146 of the 1999 constitution objectively rather than mere statement of sentiment considered on the premises of heating  the  polity.

But the lawyers of conscience must agree that one of the major constitutional problems of this country is the noticeable lacuna in the 1999 constitution. These Lacuna no doubt urgently needs amendment. That is why Nigerians must support the National Assembly to expedite action on the constitutional amendment process in order to address these inadequacies and Lacuna.

We shared in the view of the lawyers that Nigeria cannot be greping in the dark without effective political leader for the past one and half month. But as Nigerians, we need to collectively prays for the quick recuperation of the President and for him to return home and direct the affairs of the country.

However, it is important to evaluate the application of sections 144 and 146 of the 1999 constitution vis-a vis the illness of the President. Section 144 (1) states that the President or Vice president shall cease to hold office if by a resolution passed by two-third majority of all the members of the Executive Council of the federation it is declared that the President or Vice President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office. Section 144 (1) (b) says the declaration is verified after such medical examination as may be necessary  by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate and shall comprise five medical practitioners one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office of the president or Vice President.

While section 146 (1) states that the Vice president shall hold the office of President if the office of President become vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment permanently incapacitate or the removal of the president from office for any other reason in accordance with the relevant provisions of the constitution.

However, the pertinent question is has president Yar’Adua be found incapacitated to perform his official duties due to his illness and long absence?, Is there any laid down certification of his medical incapability to perform the functions of the office of the President? Has any Panel of medical Practitioners certified the President incapable.

Nigerians must collectively pray for good health and survival of President Yar’Adua  but there is need to rise to the challenge of truly ascertaining the exact state of the President’s health.

When the true state of the President’s health is ascertain of being permanently incapable, then the vice president can assume the  position of Acting President rather than some of the nation’s eminent leaders organizing rally over health matter of our President The 1999 constitution should moderate. Our collective conduct towards moving our nation forbard.

 

Philip-WuWu Okparaji

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Senate Wades Into CJN, S’Court Justices’ Feud

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The Senate has waded into the disagreement between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and justices of the Supreme Court.
Fourteen aggrieved justices of the apex court had, in a widely circulated letter to the CJN, accused him of neglecting their welfare, not carrying them along in managing the affairs of the court, the deteriorating condition of services generally, and the state of the litigation department.
Speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the legislature must be interested in what is happening in the judiciary with a view to finding solution to any of its issues.
He therefore mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) to wade into the issue.
He said: “We must have interest in what is happening in the judicial arm of government with a view to bringing solution to the issue.
“Our Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters should get involved and find out what the real issue is so that the National Assembly can help out.”

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Voter Registration: INEC Insists On June 30 Deadline, Denies Extension

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied extending the deadline of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), describing the report that it has agreed to extend the deadline by 60 days as false.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Jibril Dukku, had while briefing lawmakers told members during a plenary session on Wednesday that the Commission had agreed to extend the CVR by 60 days.
“The Committee held a meeting with INEC yesterday (Tuesday) and they agreed to extend the CVR, all our resolutions were approved,” she said.
But responding, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, clarified that the Commission has not announced an extension of the CVR deadline.
The exercise, which was meant to end on June 30, has been greeted by calls for an extension. Also, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had stopped INEC from ending the exercise until all eligible voters had been registered.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has faulted media reports associating it with the extension of the ongoing CVR.
The House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, said it was untrue that the shift of the INEC voter registration was announced on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Flanked by the chairman of the House Committee on INEC, Hajia Aisha Dukku, he said the decision on the shift is left to Prof Mahmoud Yakubu-led INEC to take.
Kalu acknowledged that INEC may not be able to adhere to the recently adopted motion of the House, which demanded an extension of the exercise by two additional months in view of the extant provision of the electoral amendment Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He reiterated the resolve of the House to ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised in the 2023 poll.
Dukku expressed optimism that INEC would heed the call for an extension.

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Fear Grips APC Over Gale Of Defections, Adamu Runs To NASS

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Following the primary elections conducted in different parts of the country by political parties, a gale of defections has hit the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), causing the party serious concern.
APC national chairman, Sen Abdullahi Adamu, on Wednesday described the mass defection of members of the party to other political parties as unfortunate and worrisome.
Adamu made this comment to newsmen after he met with the APC Senate Caucus at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
He said: “It is an unfortunate development when it happens, but this is the season for all manner of behaviour in the political space. And Nigeria is not an exception.
“In every election year, this kind of thing gives cause for stakeholders to sneeze. This is what we are experiencing. Nigeria is no exception and the APC is no exception.
“I don’t give a damn what is happening in other parties. I care about what is happening in our party, but you and I know that it’s not just in the APC that is having this experience; because we are the ruling party, yes our problems are more prominent in the public glare.”
He stated that every responsible leader will be concerned worry about losing one member, not to talk of two. At the moment, we are faced with the stark reality of that problem and we are committed with my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to face the problems squarely and see the problems are solvable, and we will solve them,” he said.
But despite the defection the party has been suffering  in recent weeks, yesterday  three senators belonging to the APC resigned their membership.
The lawmakers are Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North).
Whilst Babba Kaita and Alimikhena defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Gumau, on the other hand, defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Two senators from Bauchi and Imo States have resigned their membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
The lawmakers are Senator Dauda Jika – representing Bauchi Central and elected on the platform of the APC, and Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi – representing Imo East Senatorial District, who was elected on the platform of the PDP.
Both senators, in separate letters addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, conveyed their decision to resign their membership of the APC and PDP,  and to join the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), respectively.
The APC lawmaker, Dauda Jika, said he was moving to the NNPP whose ideals are in line with his political aspirations.
Onyewuchi, on his part, said defecting to Labour Party would nable him to participate fully in the “movement for a new Nigeria.”
Wednesday’s defections bring the number of APC Senators to 66, with members of the minority parties standing at 43.
The minority parties in the Senate at present are five in number as of Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.
They are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Young People’s Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and Labour Party (LP).
Meanwhile, A former Minister of Aviation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has raised the alarm that 22 Senators of the ruling party were at the verge of leaving the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over their inability to secure re-election tickets in the just-concluded APC primaries.
The Tide source reports that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had at separate sittings of the Houses lamented the inability of many lawmakers to secure their return tickets for the 2023 elections.
Chief Fani-Kayode, however, on Wednesday took to his verified social  media handles, saying the threat by the aggrieved Senators was a serious matter and something must be done to avert the mass defection.
He added that many party members have expressed concerns over the development even as he called on the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and national secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to quickly wade in by reaching out to the affected lawmakers.
The former Minister wrote: “22 APC Senators are threatening to decamp to PDP because they have been denied the tickets to return to the Senate.
“This is serious and something must be done to prevent it.
“Many are concerned and we urge our able National Chairman and National Secretary to reach them. We cannot afford to lose them.”

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