Senate backtracks: ‘We Can’t Compel Yar’Adua to Send Letter’

Nigeria Senate said yesterday that there was nothing anybody could do to compel President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to transmit a vacation letter to the National Assembly. The Upper House also stated that it would be irresponsible and unpatriotic on its part to contemplate criminalising ill-health by latching on it to impeach the president. This comes as Saharareporters reported the Yar’adua camp spends N20 billion to scuttle his removal

The statement was contained in a statement issued by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Information, Senator Ayogu Eze.

The Senate had, after two days of sitting, passed a resolution “urging” Yar’Adua to send in a vacation letter so that the Vice-President could act as President.

Two days ago Saharareporters reported that associates of missing and sickly Nigerian ruler, Umaru Yar’adua, have gone on a bribing spree to scuttle moves to remove him from office.

In the face of increasing local and international pressure on Yar’adua to hand over power to his deputy, the feral website said Goodluck Jonathan, the ailing “president’s” kitchen cabinet has handed Speaker of the House, Dimeji Bankole, the sum of N2 billion and another N4 billion to Senate President David Mark to stop any legislative or judicial initiative to either impeach Yar’adua or compel him to hand over power to Jonathan.

Some of the top players in Yar’adua’s unofficial but powerful inner cabinet are his wife Turai, former Governor James Onanefe Ibori, special economic aide, Tanimu Yakubu, Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa, and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara. Former President Ibrahim Babangida maintains constant consultation with the group.

The statement by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Information, Senator Ayogu Eze entitled, “Yar’Adua: Impeachment Option not before the Senate”, read: “My attention has been drawn to some wild speculations in the media, suggesting that the Senate leadership was in favour of impeaching President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and his Vice over issues surrounding the president’s medical vacation.

“What the Senate has done was to advise the president to transmit a letter informing the National Assembly that he is on medical vacation, as a way of bringing down tension in the polity and finding a way around a knotty constitutional lacuna.

“As it is, given the way section 145 of the 1999 constitution is, there is nothing anybody can do to compel the president to issue the letter. 

“However, as representatives of the Nigerian people, we felt we had a duty to speak up in support of the right thing being done, even if the constitution had glossed over its necessity.”

He said that there was no time that the issue of impeachment arose in the Senate either when the matter was taken in plenary or in closed sessions. 

He stated that the Upper House would not contemplate impeaching the president on the grounds of ill-health, saying it was not a crime to be sick. 

According to him, “We are responsible and patriotic enough to know that we cannot contemplate criminalising ill-health. Anybody can fall sick at anytime.  The issue of health lies with God.

“It is therefore mischievous to allege that the senate leadership was in favour of impeaching the president and his vice.  This was never discussed and was never contemplated. 

“I see it as the handiwork of spin doctors who are using everything at their disposal, including the ones that are so asinine, to frustrate every effort to find a political solution to a very obviously testy situation.”

Saying that the Upper House and Nigerians love the president, Eze declared: “We all love our country too, and will do whatever it will take to preserve her corporate existence.” 

He restated that there was no attempt to impeach the president or the vice-president, stressing “there are equally no motions known to the senate on the matter”.

“The senate believes that impeachment is a fractious process that will end up dividing the country and heating up the polity,” he added. 

Eze said that the Senate resolution urging the president to “do us a vacation notice is enough to produce the desired result, more so when our call has been backed by former presidents and the cream of Nigeria’s elder statesmen as well as the international community”. 

He warned the media to be wary of people whom he said were bent on pushing this country off the cliff, declaring that “the time calls for vigilance in whatever we do or so”.

“Let us resolve to find a solution to the problem rather than constitute ourselves into the problem.

“The leadership of the senate is firm on the resolve of the upper chamber to remain responsible and not be blackmailed or provoked into any hasty decision. 

“Those who are planting these fabricated stories in the press, knowing same to be false, shall reap the fruit of their misadventure.

“My faith teaches me that no evil or malice committed against fellow human beings knowingly ever goes unpunished,” he stated. 

The Eminent Elders Group, consisting of three former heads of state and three former Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJNs), also visited the National Assembly last Thursday with a letter asking the President to send in a letter to fill the power vacuum in the country.

Justice Dan Abutu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled last Friday that going by the constitution, the President could not be compelled to send in a letter.