Fresh fear over Yar’Adua

Yar Adua in Saudi Arabia; Day 31 Update: There was fresh anxiety yesterday following reports that President Umaru Yar’Adua suffered “a minor relapse’ during recuperation. But the First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua, yesterday evening said there was no cause for alarm as the President had regained stability.

The President has spent one month at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia where he is receiving treatment for acute pericarditis (inflammation of the heart’s lining).

According to a highly-placed source, who pleaded not to be named, the “minor relapse” did not substantially affect Yar’Adua’s recuperation.

The source said: “Actually, the President had some complications earlier in the day, which raised fears and sent jitters through all his friends, associates and relations.“Yar’Adua is, however, back to stability.

The doctors said it was a minor relapse.

“I think it is expected during recuperation of this nature. There is no cause for alarm. In fact, the First Lady was excited in the evening when she related with members of Yar’Adua’s family and friends.

The First Lady has made it a habit to give feedback in the morning and evening to allay the fear of family members.

The “minor relapse” said the source, may have accounted for the rumours being spread nationwide early yesterday about Yar’Adua’s health.

I believe Nigerians should be positive that the President will soon be back to us instead of spreading falsehood. Already the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, is in charge of the government machinery and he is co-ordinating the affairs of the nation well,” the source added.

It was learnt that the President’s daughters decided to stay put in Saudi Arabia.

The source said: “The daughters have defied all pleas to return home. Instead, they have chosen to weather the storm with their parents.That is a good development. It shows how united the First Family is.”

Also yesterday in Abuja, the National Democratic Movement (NDM) insisted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must abide by the constitution on the President’s health.

The NDM is a new political coalition being co-ordinated by former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former Sokoto Governor Attahiru Bafarawa.

The NDM made its position known through its Head of Secretariat, Sule Hamman, at the inauguration of two committees in Abuja .

The committees are those of Contact and Mobilisation and Strategy and Programme.

Hamman, who read a position paper, did not entertain questions. He said it was unfortunate that the nation is in a state of confusion, adding: “As the country continues to wallow in confusion and absence of direction, the role such a forum like this plays becomes even more critical.

“For, it is clearly the unwillingness of the ruling party to recognise the right of Nigerians to know the truth and the refusal of its officials to abide by the constitution of our country that is largely responsible for this unprecedented limbo, with all the consequences in its trail.

“We must not be dissuaded or indeed be intimidated in our effort to salvage this country. We must persevere while engaged in the struggle to restore democracy and rule of law.”

Hamman condemned alleged subtle plot to silence the opposition through the arrest of one of its coordinators, ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa.

He added: “Some of you will remember how one of our members was picked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). As we have said earlier and we wish to maintain that the NDM will not condone any act of corruption by anybody, no matter how highly placed or close to power he may be.

“But we must also condemn a selective anti-corruption war which targets only perceived enemies and tactics that violate the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of citizens.”

The two committees, Hamman said, were set up in line with the decision of the Steering Committee of the NDM on December 9. He told the members: “You will recall that at the meeting, you were elected to constitute the two committees to carry out the important task of going round the country consulting,“We are aware of the strenuous nature of your assignment, but we are assured by your spirit of sacrifice and dedication.

“We believe that your love for this country and your determination to bring an end to a decade of electoral fraud and bad governance will see you through.”

Last night, the Editor of Peoples Daily, Mallam Ahmed Shekarau, who was arrested on Monday over stories on the President’s health, regained his freedom from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS).

He was released after another interaction with the SSS.It was gathered that the Editor went to the SSS office early yesterday for further quizzing.

But after being kept for several hours, he was freed last night.

According to a top source: “Throughout yesterday, Shekarau was just kept in suspense without any interrogation.

“Later in the night, the SSS asked him to go without any condition attached. We hope that they will not ask him to come back.”

Contacted, the Editor said: “Well, it was just a normal interrogation by security agents.

No molestation but they wanted to know the sources of my story and I said the ethics of the profession do not allow that.

“They asked if we could retract the story, I said it is impossible. So, they wanted one of the two things: That is either disclosure of my source of story or a retraction of the story.“I said none of the two demands can be met going by the ethics of the profession.

I was there today (Tuesday) but they were involved in a series of meetings. At about 7.30pm, they asked me to go.

“There was no instruction asking me to return to their office for further interrogation.”