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11.01.2007 Nigeria

Nigeria: no plans to replace Veep Atiku

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The Federal Government Tuesday said Vice President Atiku Abubakar still "enjoys immunity from arrest and prosecution and in fact nobody from the Presidency has threatened to arrest him”.

The government has also clarified that it has neither declared Atiku's seat vacant nor notified the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission that it would send any nominee to replace him as vice President.

These were contained in a counter affidavit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, to a suit by Atiku at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

The affidavit was deposed to by one Bodunde Adeyanju, a Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The federal Government said it was Atiku “who voluntarily and partially abandoned his official residence in Aso Villa, and many of his official cars in the process”.

It was stated that the State House Motor Transport Department took protective custody of the vehicles to preserve them from being stolen or vandalised.

In buttressing the claims, Government said that Atiku"s wife, relations and aides were presently occupying his residence at Ikoyi Crescent, Lagos, and none of them had ever been harassed, molested or asked to vacate.

It was further stated that none of the security aides of the Vice President was withdrawn by the government.

The federal Government also clarified in the affidavit that the Presidency did not authorise anyone, including Mallam Uba Sanni, a Presidential spokesman, to speak on the status of the Vice President.

The affidavit contended that by Atiku's conduct which was inconsistent with his obligation to the President, the PDP and the government, he had constructively withdrawn and resigned from the PDP.

The deponent alleged that on December 20, 2006, Atiku openly and publicly declared for the Action Congress, denounced, condemned and castigated the PDP which voted him to power.

The affidavit further stated that the Vice President's statement was prejudicial, embarrassing, detrimental and destructive of the President, the PDP and the government.

It added that Atiku had not renounced his statement, but continued the attack and condemnation.

Relying on Section 144(3)(a) of the 1999 Constitution which states that the office of the Vice President can become vacant by reason of resignation, the affidavit contended that Atiku had constructively relinquished his seat.

The federal Government, however, said the Presidency had no intention of replacing him until the court makes such declaration.

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