On this day, a Nigerian court ordered vice president Goodluck Jonathan to take over presidential duties in the absence of president Umaru Yar’Adua. The court announcement came a day after thousands of protesters marched through the streets of the capital city, Abuja, demanding that the vice president assumed executive powers. The ruling was in response to one of at least four separate suits filed by groups and individuals in Nigeria seeking to temporarily transfer executive powers to vice president Goodluck Jonathan and provide the country with interim leadership.
The Nigerian constitution requires the president to write to the National Assembly vesting the vice president with the powers to act as president. President Yar’Adua did not transfer power to his deputy before traveling to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment in the month of November of the previous year. The court accepted the argument that his continued absence and the power vacuum it has created could be a source of instability in Africa’s most populous nation, and ordered the vice president to immediately assume the position of acting president for the period president Yar’Adua was incapacitated.
The Nigeria Bar Association, a prominent human right lawyer, and two former lawmakers had all filed a legal challenge against the government, accusing president Yar’Adua of breaching the constitution by staying in power.
Earlier on this day, the BBC’s Hausa Service had surprised its listeners with a three-minute interview with president Yar’Adua. “I’m getting better from the treatment I’m getting”, he said of an unspecified illness that kept him out of the limelight for much of the past two months. “I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home.”