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Nigeria court rules VP may take executive powers in president's absence

[JURIST] A judge for Nigeria's Federal High Court on Wednesday ordered Vice President Goodluck Jonathan [Online Nigeria profile] to assume executive powers due to the prolonged absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC profile], who has been in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment for a heart condition since November. The court ruled that Nigeria's 1999 Constitution [text], which allows the president's executive power to be carried out through the vice president, made it proper [AFP report] for Jonathan to assume executive powers. The court refused [Next report] to order Jonathan sworn in as acting president, finding that the constitution would not allow Jonathan to assume the role unless Yar'Adua formally transferred presidential powers to him. On Tuesday, Yar'Adua conducted an interview [BBC report] with the BBC [media website], promising to return to power and putting to rest rumors that he was critically ill or dead. Yar-Adua's absence has sparked protests and calls for him to step down.

In 2008, the Nigerian Supreme Court upheld the results of disputed 2007 election that brought Yar'Adua to power, despite opposition groups' allegations of fraud [JURIST reports]. Yar'Adua had promised to step down if the court invalidated the election. A tribunal [JURIST report] formed before the 2007 election to deal with allegations of fraud ruled that the opposition groups lacked enough evidence of fraud to have the results overturned.

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