By Fidelis Soriwei, Abuja, Published: Saturday, 20 Feb 2010

Members of the Governors’ Forum and the House of Representatives, the Principal Secretary to the President and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party were not the only people barred from seeing hospitalised President Umaru Yar‘Adua in Saudi Arabia, Saturday Punch investigations have revealed.

Some members of the Yar‘Adua family were also prevented from seeing their ailing brother at the King Faisal Specialist and Research Hospital, Jeddah by the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar‘Adua, recently.

Sources close to the family disclosed this to our correspondent on Friday even as the newspaper learnt that the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had procured Saudi visas for all the ministers selected to visit Yar’Adua in Jeddah.

President Yar’Adua has been on admission for acute pericarditis at the Arabian hospital since November 23, 2009.

Saturday Punch investigations revealed that Turai allegedly prevented some key members of Yar‘Adua‘s extended family from visiting the ailing President at the hospital recently.

It was learnt that the President’s sisters had bought tickets and were billed to travel to Saudi Arabia to see things for themselves when they were asked to stay back by Turai for reasons she did not disclose.

One of the sisters said to be resident at the Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja, and others who are said to be worried about the health of their sibling were said to have been stunned by the decision of the First Lady, an impeccable source told our correspondent.

According to the source, the only person from the Yar’Adua family who could not be prevented from seeing the number one citizen is a younger brother of the President, a Lt. Colonel in the Army. The source added that the colonel was the only close extended family member that had been to Jeddah to see the President since his illness worsened.

The source added that one of the wives of the late elder brother of the President, Gen. Musa Yar‘Adua, an Ethiopian lady, who had four children for the elder Yar’Adua, was also dissuaded from travelling to see the president.

It was learnt that only three people has access to the President in the Saudi hospital; the Chief security Officer to the President, his Aide de Camp and Turai. It is only these three that have information about President Yar’Adua’s state of health.

Since the illness became protracted, several highly placed Nigerians have made futile efforts to see the President.

For in stance, a delegation of the Governors‘ Forum led by its chairman, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and comprising Gabriel Suswan of Benue State; Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State; Isa Yuguda of Bauchi; and the President‘s Economic Adviser, Dr. Tanimu Yakubu, travelled to Jeddah on November 29 last year, but was not allowed to see the President.

On December 26, 2009, the president‘s Principal Secretary, Mr. David Edevbie, also travelled to Saudi Arabia but was not allowed to see his ailing boss. A delegation of the House of Representatives led by Shehu Agaie (Niger State) and comprising Ali Ndume (Borno), Patrick Ikhariale (Edo State), Moruf Fatai (Lagos State) and Jibril Adamu (Kaduna State) also went to the hospital on February 9 but after waiting for five days without seeing Yar‘Adua, it returned to Nigeria.

And just last week, a delegation of the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party led by the party‘s National Chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, also travelled to Jeddahbut was reportedly barred by Turai from seeing the President.

Meanwhile, the six-man delegation raised by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday to visit the president may depart for Jeddah on Sunday, even though that departure remained uncertain as at Friday.

Reliable sources in Abuja told Saturday Punch that the SGF collected the ministers passports on Thursday, took it to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Abuja and returned it with visas on Friday. He also added that a decision had been taken that the delegation should depart for Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The delegation is expected back on Monday to brief the FEC about its findings next Wednesday. Sunday is a working day in Saudi Arabia, the flight is expected to take about five hours and the delegation may not spend more than an hour at the hospital if things work according to plan.

However, a source was also quick to add that there was uncertainty about the departure date, saying, “Although the ministers now have their visas, the Sunday departure date has not been confirmed or cancelled. So, no one knows if the trip will take place on that day.”

The delegation comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed; the Ministers of Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode; Agriculture, Abba Ruma; Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe; Health, Babatunde Osotimehin; and Petroleum, Rilwan Lukman, will also pay a courtesy call on the King of Saudi Arabia.

But the inability of the previous delegations to see Yar’Adua has given rise to concerns that the FEC team may not be allowed to see him at the King Faisal Hospital.

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