Written by By Zainab Suleiman Okino:

As the nation continues to grapple with the leadership crisis occasioned by the long absence of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former Sports minister, Dr. Saidu Samaila Sambawa has called on the federal government to try all those involved in politicising Yar’Adua’s illness for treasonable offences.

According to him, the call became necessary because the cabal around the president was responsible for his non-compliance with the constitutional provisions of properly handing over to his vice president before leaving the shores of Nigeria for treatment abroad.

Speaking to Leadership Weekend in Abuja, Sambawa, who served as minister of State for Foriegn Affairs and for Internal Affairs under former president, Obasanjo, said that the actions of this cabal kept the nation in stagnation for four months, and that in the process, the nation paid dearly for the mismanagement of the whole situation by his men, whom he said were only concerned about their personal interests above that of the nation.

The Kebbi-born former Sports minister also said that he was convinced that Yar’Adua’s minders, now referred to as a cabal, deserved to be investigated and tried, no matter how highly placed they are.

“These people are well known. They have stolen a lot of money and are using it against the Nigerian people. They are even putting up posters everywhere. They should be tried for treason. If they had held public offices, they should be investigated to determine the amount of money they have stolen and are now using to de-campaign some ministers-designate and the government of Jonathan.

“They should be investigated and tried, and if found guilty they should suffer the consequences of their actions.

“As soon as it was clear that the president was not disposed to discharge the functions of his office, something should have been done. I know the president very well and I know he has a sense of responsibility, so we didn’t have to wait for almost five months before this happened.

“I know that if the president was in a position to resign, he would do so. The people who are handling the president should have done what President Yar’Adua would do were he in a good state of health.”

He further argued that the president’s handlers did a lousy job of his absence and exposed him to ridicule, adding that “I am neither blaming the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan nor the National Assembly. I blame the people around the president who put their personal interests first before the nation’s interest and allowed the situation to degenerate to the level it had before the National Assembly intervened.”

He said that irrespective of the criticism trailing the decision of the National Assembly to declare Jonathan as acting president, the decision was in the best interest of the nation, saying that “their intervention saved the day. Otherwise the country’s name would have been dragged in the mud.”

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