Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Nigerian court says VP can take over executive powers


A high court ruled on Wednesday that Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan can take executive powers in the absence of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since November.

“I hereby order the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, to start exercising the powers of President Umaru Yar’Adua pending his recovery and return to office,” said Dan Abutu, the chief judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

“The vice president cannot become the acting president but can only carry out the functions of the president in his absence which he has been doing and should continue to do so,” he said in his ruling.

He gave the ruling in a case filed on Monday by a lawyer, Christopher Onwuekwe, seeking the court’s interpretation of the Constitution.

“The vice president can perform the executive functions of the president pending the time he returns,” Abutu said.

The clause states that executive powers are vested in the president, and may, subject to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, “be exercised by him either directly or through the vice president and ministers ... or officers in the public service.”

Justice Minister Michael Aondoaaka, who was in court, told journalists after the ruling: “No other person can question the vice president when he performs the functions of the president, except the president himself and with this ruling, he can continue to discharge such functions legally.”

The opposition alleges that with Yar’Adua’s absence since Nov. 23, government business has been stalled and that the nation’s democracy is facing its most serious threat in the 10 years since the end of military rule.

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