The courts have given the Nigerian cabinet 14 days to determine whether the president is fit to lead the country. You might recall that the president has been away from the country on treatment for close to two months.
Judge Dan Abutu ordered the cabinet to pass a resolution on Yar’Adua’s fitness within two weeks after a former lawmaker brought a legal case against the government, saying his failure to transfer power was in breach of the constitution.
Foreign Policy’s Elizabeth Dickinson praises the courts:
There have been other, less blockbuster examples: the courts succeeded in trying tobacco companies for their activities in Nigeria. They’ve gone after Pfizer for drug tests that prosecuting laywers (one is pictured above) say were illegal. Lawyers worked through the courts to end the military detention of the country’s most notorious rebel leader prisoner. (Yes, probably a good thing he was detained. Not so good that he was kept first in Angola and then in a secret cell.) And a whole crew of self-proclaimed human rights lawyers are literally in court every day to defend the country’s people against such ills as police abuse and government-orchestrated property siezures.
Now we’re seeing the same thing again. When Nigerian democracy doesn’t work, the courts are the only place to turn. And turn they do. The lawsuit that mandates this vote on Yar’Adua is just the first of a flood of law suits now demanding that the Nigerian government transition into the hands of the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan. Even if the cabinet votes to keep Yar’Adua in power, the courts will be back to challenge them. You can’t go missing for two months without at least a few of Nigeria’s many lawyers noticing.