Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: 2015 Presidency - Jonathan Knows Fate March 1

Abuja — Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of an Abuja High Court in Maitama has slated March 1 to determine whether President Goodluck Jonathan will be eligible to vie for the Presidency in 2015.

Justice Oniyangi fixed the date four months after he concluded hearing on the suit which was entered before the high court by an aggrieved member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Cyriacus Njoku.

Reserved verdict

Though the court had on July 23, reserved verdict on the matter till October 18, 2012, judgment was, however, subsequently adjourned sine-die (indefinitely), owing to the absence of the judge in court on that date.

Specifically, the plaintiff, who is a registered member of the PDP in Zuba ward, Abuja, in his suit, urged the court to among other things, determine "Whether Section 135(2) of the Constitution, which specifies a period of four years in office for the President, is only available or applicable to a person elected on the basis of an actual election or includes one in which a person assumes the position of President by operation of law, as in the case of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan."

Contending that Jonathan was constitutionally barred from contesting the Presidency in 2015, Cyriacus prayed the court to determine "whether Section 137(1) (b) of the Constitution, which provides that a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President, if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections, applies to the first defendant, who first took an oath of office as substantive President on May 6, 2010 and took a second oath as President on May 29, 2011."

He is also seeking a declaration that 'the President's tenure of office began on May 6, 2010 when his first term began and his two terms shall end on May 29, 2015 after taking his second oath of office on May 29, 2011; and by virtue of Section 136 (1) (b) of the Constitution, no person (including the first defendant) shall take the oath of allegiance and the oath of office prescribed to in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution more than twice.

Even as he asked the court for an order of injunction restraining President Jonathan from further contesting or attempting to vie for President after May 29, 2015 when his tenure shall by the Nigerian Constitution end.

The plaintiff asked the court to issue an order of injunction restraining the PDP from further sponsoring or attempting to sponsor Jonathan as candidate for election to the office of the President in 2015, as well as make an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to refrain from accepting the name of the 1stdefendant, Jonathan, should the party decide to sponsor him in the next presidential election.

Nevertheless, both President Jonathan and the PDP, in separate preliminary objections filed against the suit, described it as "frivolous and highly vexatious," saying it ought to be dismissed in its entirety as grossly lacking in merit.

They argued that the plaintiff failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action that precipitated the suit, insisting that Jonathan is currently doing his first term of four years in office as the President of Nigeria as provided by the 1999 constitution as amended.

According to the PDP, "President Jonathan's status and position is formidably backed by the 1999 constitution. The constitution of Nigeria only makes provisions for a president to contest for not more than two terms of four years each. The constitution recognizes the President's tenure of office to be four years."

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