By John Alechenu:

The intervention of Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and other influential northern emirs may have temporarily halted plans by the members of the National Interest Group in the Senate to push for the invocation of section 143 of the Constitution for the removal of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

The Sultan, our correspondent gathered, specifically put calls through to some members of the group as well as sent emissaries to others in order for them to soft-pedal on their plan.

It was not exactly clear whether the Sultan had a face to face meeting with leading members of the NIG but a reliable source confirmed that there were calls and some influential emirs and clerics were contacted to meet members of the group.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered on Friday that Senators in the NIG who drew strength from the success of their venture for the transfer of power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan initially contemplated starting the process of removing the president who has been hospitalised since last November 23.

The initiative, however, could not gain sufficient grounds as influential northern traditional rulers and leaders of thought, it was learnt, waded into the matter.

Indeed, a Senator and an NIG member who craved anonymity confirmed the Sultan’s intervention.

Hitherto, it was said that the internal wrangling in the NIG as well as the timing frustrated the group‘s attempt to initiate the impeachment proceedings against Yar‘Adua who has since returned to the country after spending 93 days at King Faisal Hospital in Jeddah Saudi Arabia.

But even as the monarchs intervened a another Senator and a member of the NIG who is a member of the group also told our correspondent on Friday that they were still working on another resolution to urge the Federal Executive Council to declare President Yar‘Adua incapacitated.

He, however, said the attention of most of his northern colleagues was drawn to the risk of the north losing out from the power equation if a deal was not struck with Jonathan before such an action was carried through.

The Senator confided in our correspondent that, ”There is something like that (resolution) in the offing.

”While I have no doubt that we have the required number to push for an outright impeachment if the motion fails, I cannot say the same for the House of Representatives.

“I am told Turai and co have close to 270 out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives in their kitty as such a move is bound to fail.

“We require around 70 to 80 senators to go the whole hog but there are other considerations. We all come from somewhere, we have leaders and when they speak we have no choice but to give them the benefit of a doubt.”

It was also gathered that a number of Senators were concerned about their political future in weighing their options.

SUNDAY PUNCH also gathered that the Senator Umaru Dahiru-led Northern Senators Forum was unable to reach a common position on the Yar’Adua debacle after two recent meetings.

Sources at the two meetings confirmed that there were heated debates during the parleys.

The source of the conflict was said to be a move by a group of Senators led by Jibril Aminu who canvassed sanctions for the leadership of the NIG who were mostly members of the forum.

This move did not gain support as members of the NIG who were larger in number said no such thing would be allowed to happen.

Incidentally, the Secretary of the Northern Senators Forum, Senator Bala Mohammed, is the chairman of the NIG.

In the end, some northern governors reached out to political and religious leaders to put pressure on members of the NIG to soft-pedal while discussions are being held with Jonathan.

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