Nigerian lawyers, activists condemn mode of president's return

18:55, February 25, 2010      

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Nigerians have condemned the secret way ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua was smuggled into the country three months after he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

The president returned to the country early Wednesday, 93 days after his departure to the Saudi Kingdom to attend to his failing health.

He left Abuja on Nov. 23, 2009. Yar' Adua is said to be suffering from acute pericarditis.

Critics told Xinhua on Thursday in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub that despite the president's return, he is not still fit to continue as president.

According to constitutional lawyer, Itse Sagay,the question was not whether Yar'Adua had returned,but whether he was fit to continue to rule as president due to his condition.

The lawyer said he did not believe the president in his present condition could continue to function in office as the nation's number one man, while challenging the president to come openly to make a public speech so that Nigerians would know that he was fit to continue.

"As at now, the status quo remains that until he appears to make a public speech, Jonathan remains the acting president," he said.

In his reaction, Joe Okei-Odumakin, National President for Campaign for Democracy (CD), said it was an insult to the nation the way Yar'Adua was smuggled into the country, noting that everything was done in secrecy.

"We are not going to agree to that, our president is still incapacitated, Jonathan should continue," Okei-Odumakin added.

Speaking in the same vein, Allens Agbaka, a legal practitioner based in Lagos said Yar'Adua's return was shrouded in secrecy, adding that he was not fit to continue.

He recommended that Jonathan should continue as acting president.

According to Agbaka, since Yar'Adua granted an interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which the Senate read as transmitting a letter to them, the president should again grant another interview to BBC telling the nation that he was not fit to continue as president.

"We are deceiving ourselves, let the party PDP present him again in 2011 and see what Nigerians will do," he added.

Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, said in a statement that as the president of Nigeria, the group condemns the way he was smuggled into the country at night.

"This portrays us as a banana republic," the statement said.

According to the statement, the president should immediately address the nation and preside over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

"They have brought his incapacitated body to the nation, we want to see him," the group said.

Bamidele Aturu, one time convener, United Action for Democracy (UAD) said Nigerians would need to know the state of health of the president,adding that he should prove to the nation that he was fit by presiding over today's FEC meeting.

According to him, if he could not preside over the FEC meeting, the FEC should pass a resolution under section 144 of the 1999 constitution declaring him unfit to continue as president.

On his part, Oluwatosin Akeredolu National President, Nigeria Bar Association, simply told reporters he does not know if the president is back in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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