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Atiku: AC has Plan-B – Mamora

Posted by By Christian Ita & Kayode Fasua (Lagos) & Lucky Nwankwere (Abuja) on 2007/01/08 | Views: 317 |

Atiku: AC has Plan-B – Mamora


In view of the statement Friday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that anybody indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial or administrative panel would be disqualified from contesting the 2007 elections, the Action Congress (AC) says a surprise awaits President Olusegun Obasanjo should Vice President Atiku Abubakar be disqualified.

•Only court will decide VP’s fate –Presidency

In view of the statement Friday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that anybody indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial or administrative panel would be disqualified from contesting the 2007 elections, the Action Congress (AC) says a surprise awaits President Olusegun Obasanjo should Vice President Atiku Abubakar be disqualified.

Atiku, who is the standard bearer of the party, was indicted for fraud by an Administrative Panel headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo and the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) over the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).

Although the two reports have been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction, INEC, ostensibly under the influence of Federal Government, is believed to be intent on using the said reports to disqualify Atiku from the presidential election.

But speaking in an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, a chieftain of the party, Senator Olorunnibe Mamora, decried what he termed the desperation of the presidency to stop Atiku at all cost, promising that the party still has a trump card.

The former Lagos State speaker said the party would not be caught napping in the event that the VP was eventually prevented from flying the AC flag.

Mamora, however, insisted the party would fight to a logical end, the V-P’s constitutional right to aspire to the position of President “despite spirited attempts by the presidency to stop him.”
“Naturally, every politician should have Plan-B or back-up plan,” said Mamora, stressing that the identity of the party’s alternate presidential candidate “would be kept under wraps until the case challenging the Presidency’s move is disposed off through the law court.”

Disclosing the Plan B is at a time like this will not be tactically wise, he said.
“ It can only come up after one might have exhausted the due process as far as the option is concerned,” he re-affirmed.

Mamora pooh-poohed the Presidency and the ruling PDP, saying none of them had the right to declare the office of the V-P vacant as that “amounts to a violation of the constitution.”
In the same vein, he maintained that it was not within the purview of the INEC to disqualify any candidate, arguing that the Commision only has to concern itself with the conducts of elections.
“ I think the first thing to say is that, constitutionally, neither Mr. President nor his party-PDP-has powers to declare the seat of the V-P vacant. The constitution is clear as to how the seat of the V-P becomes vacant and the relevant sections are clear”.

He cited sections 142, 143, 146 and 239 as well as Section 1, which affirms the supremacy of the Constitution.

Sections 142, 143, 146 and 238 of the 1999 Constitution state, among other things, the office of the V-P will become vacant through either death of the occupant, resignation, impeachment, permanent deformity and elevation of the V-P to the position of President.

Mamora said it was, therefore, laughable and illegal for anyone to declare the V-P’s office vacant.
Mamora similarly informed that members of the National Assembly were yet to obtain the President’s letter declaring the V-P’s office vacant, saying that perhaps the letter would be obtained when they re-convened on January 16.

Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday said it is the court that will determine Atiku's status in the current administration.

In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mrs. Remi Oyo, the Presidency said it would now await the ruling of the Court of Appeal on its suit seeking a legal interpretation of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 in respect of the matter.
It also said that it “has not authorized any other comment on this matter other than the decisions and action of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (Chief Bayo Ojo) who took the matter to the Court of Appeal for interpretation.”

According to Oyo, the Presidency’s position is as follows:
*That at its last meeting on December 2006, the National Executive Committee of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decided to regard Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s acceptance of his nomination as presidential candidate of the Action Congress as clear evidence of his voluntary abandonment of the PDP and the joint ticket with President Olusegun Obasanjo that made him Vice President.
*That the PDP NEC further decided that because of his voluntary desertion of the party, Atiku Abubakar is no longer a member of the PDP.

*These decisions were subsequently conveyed to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his capacity as president of Nigeria and leader of the PDP, as well as to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly.

*Consequent upon these decisions and action, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation has asked the Court of Appeal for a legal interpretation of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 in this regard.

*The Presidency has not authorized any other comment on this matter other than the decisions and action of the PDP and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Only last Wednesday, the Honourary Political Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr Akin Oshuntokun, distanced President Obasanjo from the earlier declaration that the vice president’s office was vacant.

Curiously, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Mallam Uba Sani, had on December 23, 2006, told journalists in Abuja that President Obasanjo had declared the office of the vice president vacant, informing that a replacement would soon be named after due consultations “with relevant bodies and stakeholders” in the country.

The Presidency was to follow up the issue with the redeployment of virtually all federal civil servants serving in the VP’s office to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation for further re-assignment of duties.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.