The Nigerian lawyer, Barrister Amos Onokevagbe, who vowed to drag presidential candidates in the 2023 elections to court if they fail to release to the public their health, and academic records, has given them 14 days to do so or face him in court.
Mr Onokevagbe, who is the Publisher of Caracal Reports worldwide, and based in the United States, said Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, as well as the 15 other presidential candidates for the 2023 elections, should make those certificate public to enable Nigerians to ascertain the state of those seeking to lead the country in the coming four years so that history doesn’t repeat itself.
He had in a statement on September 26 made the request but none of the presidential candidates has responded.
Consequently, Onokevagbe, in a letter through his lawyers on Tuesday, October 11, gave the presidential candidates a 14-day ultimatum to respond by making those records public or being dragged to court.
The letter reads:
“We write as Solicitors to Amos Onokevagbe Esq., hereinafter referred to as our client and we write at his behest concerning your intention to participate in the 2023 general elections of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially your interest in running for the exalted office of President/Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is our client’s instructions that pursuant to the release by the Independent National Electoral Commission (“INEC”) on the 20th of September 2022, you were one of the eighteen (18) eminent Nigerians who have not just expressed ambition to preside over the affairs of Nigeria as President come May 29, 2023, but that indeed you have met the requirements of the law and have been sponsored by a registered political party to vie for this office. Our client congratulates you on achieving this feat.
Our client, a Nigerian, voter, community leader, and patriot has become increasingly worried by the absence of information on the health status of the 18 presidential candidates. This lack of clarity on the health statuses of the presidential candidates
particularly the leading political parties have led to conjecture and rumour-mongering on the health statuses of the various presidential candidates.
Lest our client is labelled a rabble-rouser or a meddlesome interloper who wants to know the private medical information of individuals, our client’s worry is borne out of his lived experience in Nigeria, where the health statuses of Presidents were
shrouded in secrecy and which almost brought Nigeria to its knees. Our client refers to the health crisis of the late President UmaruYar’Adua, which eventually culminated in his death and which also made the National Assembly invoke the doctrine of necessity to make the then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan the Acting President when the President was away without any official explanation.
This unfortunate and sordid saga, which sadly led to President Yar’Adua’s death led to a constitutional amendment. The second scenario which agitates our client’s mind, is the ailment that plagued President
Muhammadu Buhari during his first term in office, which led him to spend a long time away from his job as President while convalescing in the United Kingdom.
The lack of information on the President’s health led to rumours, which ultimately and thankfully turned out to be false, that President Buhari had lost his life and led to the now infamous “Jubril of Sudan” narrative peddled by a few people with very fertile imaginations.
Having noted the reasons why our client’s mind has become agitated, our client recognises that the argument usually against releasing medical records of candidates are private records, but our client is firmly convinced that it is in the overarching public interest for you as a candidate to waive this right to privacy as voters must make an informed choice.
Candidates must sometimes forgo their perceived constitutional rights which though in this case not absolute, because of the public nature of the office and its significance, Candidates must specifically disclose any medical conditions that could seriously impair their ability to carry out the “core functions” of the presidency.
This requirement is necessary because:
(1) Only with their consent do people have the right to be governed.
(2) People’s consent is meaningful only when they have access to the information required to cast an informed vote;
(3) Such information is required to vote intelligently; and
(4) There are no compelling competing interests to override this right.
Given the well-documented history of deceit and secrecy surrounding Presidents’ and presidential candidates’ health, it is especially crucial to safeguard the public’s right to this information.
Our Client’s Prayers
It is our client’s instructions that considering the innate rigours of the office of the President and the mental and physical toll it can take on the health of an individual, our client requests that you instruct your physician to publish to the general public a medical report detailing the state of your health, any chronic conditions you may be suffering from and any other sundry information on your health which the general public would need to know to guide them to make an informed choice in the 2023 general elections.
We also demand the publication, in the same manner, of your academic qualifications.
TAKE NOTICE that the above demands are our client’s minimum demands. If, however, these demands are not met, our client shall, within the next 14 days from the date of the receipt of this letter, proceed to a court of competent jurisdiction to compel the release of this salient information in the overarching
Pius I. Owiwoh Esq.
(Solicitor & Notary Public)”