Aondoakaa and Yar’adua: Dancing the death dance!

Can the outgoing Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Kutigi, swear in his designated successor, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu? The failure of Yar’Adua to write to the National Assembly has created a lot of legal hurdles for key decisions, including assent to the 2009 Supplementary Budget and the swearing-in of the new CJN. Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu is expected to take over from Justice Idris Kutigi, who will retire from the Supreme Court on December 31 on attainment of the 70 years statutory age.


Quote: Yar’adua and Aondoakaa are playing with the future and destiny of Nigeria by destroying the basis of our laws. It is terrible that a president that came into power singing “the rule of law” mantra will be engaging in this dance of death.


President Umaru Yar’Adua was flown out of the country on November 23 following a diagnosis of acute pericarditis, a heart condition.

Yar’adua and his kitchen Cabinet led by Turai Yar’adua’ has resisted the advice given by former heads of states, party elders and concerned Nigerians to cede power to the Vice President Jonathan Goodluck on or before January 1, 2010, as it is has become clear that Yar’Adua may not make it back anytime soon due to the gravity of his illness. 

To make sure that VP Goodluck never acts as president, they have recruited the AG, Mr Aondoakaa to manufacture all manner of legal abracadabra to ensure Jonathan never smells the office. He has insisted that that Yar’Adua can work from anywhere in the word. But how could he swear in the Chief Justice from Saudi Arabia?

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa thus said the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Idris Kutigi, will this week swear in his successor, Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu. Kutigi is due for retirement on December 31.

“If that is the case, the outgoing CJN can swear in his successor by December 30 and leave by the midnight of December 31”, he said.

But this will be illegal.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Section 231says:

(4) If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding has resumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.

So there will be 2 Chief Justices if the current CJ swears in the incoming CJ. On the other hand, if the CJ waits for his office to be vacant as stipulated in the constitution, then he would have lost the power to swear in a new one.

Right now the nation is in crisis.

But To Aondoakaa, “the medical trip of the President has not affected governance in any way since the President has been away in Saudi Arabia since November 23. The Vice-President has been holding the forte effectively and the government machinery is working well,” Aondoakaa said.

However, with the Nigerian sick President, Umaru Yar’adua still on AWOL in Jeddah Saudi Arabia, high-wire intrigues and intense power struggle going on inside Aso Rock, a Nigerian – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – caught in US airline terrorist attack, pipelines explosions resuming in the Niger Delta, Banks in melt-down, thousands sacked, Economy in doldrums, Anambra political crisis nears a powder keg, Maryam Babangida dead, letter bomb explosions in Lagos; Complete Anarchy!

On the matter of the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is set to sign it on his bed at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he is recuperating. 

The supplementary budget, which is aimed at fast-tracking development in the Niger Delta, has been awaiting presidential assent since it was passed by the National Assembly.

The Principal Secretary to the President, Mr. David Edevbie, is in Saudi Arabia with the Supplementary Bill and other documents requiring president’s signature – Thus ending suggestions that the President will write to the National Assembly to allow the Vice-President to assume the position of Acting President.

The Senate had December 16 approved the nominations of Justice Katsina-Alu as CJN and Justice Isa Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal. Yar’Adua had before he travelled to Saudi Arabia submitted the names of the Justices for confirmation to the Upper House of the National Assembly.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) stirred up a hornet’s nest yesterday when he said Justice Kutigi could swear in Justice Katsina-Alu whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate about two weeks ago.

Aondoakaa said Justice Kutigi could swear in Justice Katsina-Alu since President Umaru Yar’Adua is indisposed to do so. According to the Attorney-General, Justice Kutigi is empowered by law to carry out the exercise which might take place this Thursday.

I disagree with Aondoakaa. It is the exclusive preserve of the President to swear in the Chief Justice. It is the President, a properly acting President or someone acting in the president’s behalf that can swear in the Chief Justice. Unfortunately, there is a gap now. It would be unconstitutional for any other person to undertake the job.

The Constitution prescribed a process where after the President has sworn in the Chief Justice then the Chief Justice can swear in other judicial officers. But as things are now, the new Chief Justice can only function administratively since he has no legal backing to carry out the functions of his office.

The AG Aondoakaa is playing God with our laws and frustrated Nigerians are asking: why can’t we simply solve this logjam as prescribed in our Constitution?

Yar’adua and Aondoakaa are playing with the future and destiny of Nigeria by destroying the basis of our laws. It is terrible that a president that came into power singing “the rule of law” mantra will be engaging in this dance of death.

In this dance of death, will the Judiciary save Nigeria from looming chaos?

Hearing notices have been issued by the Federal High Court in Abuja for the suit filed by three Nigerians asking the court to invoke section 145 on Yar’Adua or seeking the ouster of Yar’Adua based on section 146 of the Nigerian Constitution. Both cases have been fixed for Tuesday, 29 December 2009.

Former member of the House of Representatives Alhaji Farouk Adamu Aliyu and chairman of the Jigawa State chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Sani Hussaini Garun Gabas have jointly filed a suit at the Abuja Federal High Court asking it to declare that the absence of President Umaru Yar’adua from the country since November 23rd on the grounds of ill-health constitutes permanent incapacitation, which makes him liable to the provisions of Section 149 of the 1999 constitution.

President of the West African Bar Association (WABA) Mr Femi Falana also filed a suit asking a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to compel President Umaru Musa Yar’adua to immediately empower the Vice-President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to discharge the functions of the President as the Acting President of Nigeria.

A frustrated Country waits!