Senators give cabinet 48hrs to declare Yar’Adua unfit

For the second time in 72 hours, lawmakers pushing for the rule of law have given the Federal Executive Council (FEC) up till Thursday to declare the President incapable of discharging his duties.

President Umaru Yar’Adua has been in Saudi Arabia since November 23, last year. He is ill.Scores of National Assembly members asked FEC to invoke Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution or risk an impeachment proceeding against the President.

Section 144 reads in part: “The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office if (a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds 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; and (b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary by a Medical Panel established under Sub-section 4 of this Section…”

The Senators and House members held an emergency session at a secret location in Abuja.

It was gathered that the meeting was convened following the leakage of the report of the five-man team the House of Representatives sent to Saudi Arabia.

The team, led by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Baba Shehu Agaie, had no access to the President at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah.

Although the team’s report is due for presentation at the House plenary today, pro-Jonathan members of the National Assembly said they had had enough of a “hide and seek game”.

A source at the meeting said: “It appears we have reached a dead end on the health of the President because we cannot get any information.

We have decided to prevail on the Federal Executive Council to fulfill its constitutional obligation in Section 144 to get to the root of the matter.

“Once the FEC takes the initiative, those hiding information on the condition of the President, including Saudi authorities, will be forthcoming.”

A member of the House at the meeting also added: “Our ultimatum is a fact-finding one to enable us know what is wrong with the President. But if the FEC plays on our intelligence, we will commence impeachment process.

We are not being used by anybody but we have to call a spade a spade. We are already consulting and mobilising our colleagues on this ultimatum.”

The Chairman of the National Interest Group in the Senate, Mr. Bala Muhammed, said last night: “We met and Sections 143 and 144 were extensively discussed by those in attendance. The Secretary of the NIG, Senator Smart Adeyemi, will give you more details.

What we are trying to do is to stabilise and solidify power transfer to the Acting President. We want to give the nation a focus to move forward. So, we are only trying to consolidate.”

Adeyemi said: “The over 70 Senators and House members in attendance resolved to give the Federal Executive Council up till Thursday to set up a Medical Board to determine the actual state of health of the President or else we will begin an impeachment proceeding against President Yar’Adua.

“We also resolved to reach out to our colleagues in the NIG who could not attend the emergency meeting.

“We are not looking at the issue on the basis of sentiments but out of concern for the future and political stability of this country.

The latest plot has caught Yar’Adua’s loyalists unawares.

A source said: “It is unfortunate if they have chosen to remove the President from office on technical ground.

I think the elders and statesmen can now appreciate that their political option is being hijacked. We saw it coming.”