A Nigerian lawyer launched legal action against the aides of President Umaru Yar'Adua on Tuesday in an attempt to force the ailing leader to appear before the media and prove the state of his health.
Yar'Adua was flown back to Nigeria almost a week ago after three months in hospital in Saudi Arabia but is still too frail to govern, raising fears of a power struggle between his aides and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
The 58-year-old leader has not been seen in public since he left Nigeria in November to get treatment for a heart ailment. Presidency sources say he is in a mobile intensive care unit and his powerful wife, Turai, controls access to him.
Abuja-based lawyer Kayode Ajulo launched the legal action against Turai and five other aides including the chief of army staff and national security adviser, asking a Federal High Court to rule on whether their actions were against the constitution.
Ajulo is seeking a court order directing the aides to allow Nigerian newspaper owners, editors and journalists "to have access to ascertain the existence of President Umaru Yar'Adua", according to court papers seen by Reuters.
Jonathan assumed executive powers on February 9, ending months of state paralysis and allowing him to set priorities such as implementing an amnesty for rebels in the oil-producing Niger Delta, restoring power supplies and preparing for elections.
But Yar'Adua's return came just two weeks later and threatened to again put policy-making on hold in the OPEC member state of more than 140 million people.
Analysts say those around Jonathan appear to have gained the upper hand over the circle loyal to Yar'Adua.
Jonathan set up three new advisory committees on Monday, including one on the Niger Delta, in a further sign he is asserting his authority.
Source : Ruters