Saturday, January 09, 2010

Nigeria: Opposition calls for investigation into allegations that president's signature was forged on budget

The Nigerian opposition is calling for an investigation into allegations that the president's signature was forged on this year’s budget, which approves billions of dollars in spending.

Government officials say President Umaru Yar’Adua signed it from his sick bed in Saudi Arabia. But the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) is demanding evidence.

The parties want to see photographs backing up the claim.

“There are doubts as to the capacity of the president to sign any document [in his current condition],” says Femi Falana, lawyer for the CNPP.

“And for a president who has disappeared from the scene for six weeks, it is believed since [he] is incommunicado, that the document is forged.”

While the Nigerian leader can sign official documents outside the country, Falana says, there should be documentary evidence to convince skeptics.

“The issue is that the president is on medical vacation and under the Nigerian law and under the law anywhere, once you are on vacation, you are away from work. You are not working; you cannot sign documents because you are on leave.”

Because of the high stakes involved in the latest controversy, Falana says desperate officials would be willing to unlawfully take advantage of Mr. Yar’Adua’s absence.

“In the circumstances in which we are, desperate power mongers who are not committed to the Constitution can go to any length, and that is what has happened in this case.”
Chinedu Offor Published with the permission of Voice of America

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