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Nigeria's Vice President Wins Court Backing for April Vote


A Nigerian court has ruled the electoral commission cannot disqualify the country's vice president from next month's presidential elections. Meanwhile, the ruling party candidate has gone to Europe for medical care because of a kidney problem. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports from Abuja.

The court ruling is a political lifeline for the vice president, who is embroiled in a complex legal and political dispute with President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar wants to run for president in elections next month, on the ticket of an opposition party. The electoral commission had declared Abubakar ineligible for the election because he has been indicted by a presidential panel for corruption.

The federal high court declared the electoral commission had no power, under existing law, to disqualify the vice president.

A spokesman for the vice president's campaign office, Garba Shehu, says the judgment is a huge relief and removes all impediments in pursuing the vice president's political ambition.

"We believe this is the last bus stop," said Shehu. "There is nothing more anybody can do to stop the vice president from contesting the elections. The fact that we were trying to put all our energy, all our attention on the race, you cannot pretend [disqualification] is not a distraction. So, we are absolutely happy about it."

Earlier, the ruling People's Democratic Party presidential candidate, Umar Yar'Adua, was flown to Germany for medical treatment. The Katsina state governor has suffered from a kidney condition in the past and his health condition has been under intense scrutiny since he became the ruling party's candidate last December.

The candidate's spokesman says Yar'dua is in stable condition, denying reports that he collapsed and lost consciousness.

Yar'adua, Abubakar, and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari are considered the frontrunners for the April 21 election.

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