, ABUJA, Jan 29 – A Nigerian court is set to rule Friday on a demand by top lawyers that a caretaker head of state be appointed until ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua returns from hospital treatment in Saudi Arabia.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), took a case to court to ask Yar\’Adua, who has been receiving treatment for a heart condition in Jeddah for more than two months, to delegate full powers to his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, until he returns.
The case is the second of three separate suits before the federal high court seeking to avert a constitutional and political crisis in Africa\’s most populous country, which has a history of military coups.
A week ago the same court ordered the cabinet to decide within 14 days if Yar\’Adua was fit to stay in office in view of his protracted hospitalisation.
The government — all appointed by Yar\’Adua — declared days later that the head of state, in hospital since November 23, is capable of discharging his functions.
The senate has demanded Yar\’Adua take steps to transfer power to his deputy in line with the country\’s constitution.
However, Vice President Jonathan on Thursday sought to meet mounting concerns as world powers piled up pressure, saying the president would return home soon. He did not give a date.
Jonathan has been filling in for Yar\’Adua but does not possess full executive powers to act as head of state.
Yar\’Adua\’s prolonged absence has stirred unease in the international community.
"Nigeria is going through a period of uncertainty because of the prolonged illness of President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua," said the United States, European Union, Britain and France in a statement on Thursday.