18 March 2014

Nigeria: Court Dismisses Suit Seeking to Stop Jonathan's Re-Election Bid

Kaduna — A Federal High Court in Kaduna yesterday struck out a suit seeking to restrain President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking a re-election in the 2015 election.

The suit was filed by two chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Richard Mneaga and Shuaibu Lill.

The plaintiffs had sought among other things, for an order to disqualify Jonathan from presenting himself as the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2015 election.

The also wanted the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to restrain the PDP from accepting the nomination of Jonathan as its presidential candidate in the 2015 election. In the suit, filed on October 7, 2013, the plaintiffs insisted that Jonathan had completed his eight years in office as president of the country, beginning from May 29, 2007.

The plaintiffs also sought "a declaration that President Jonathan is not entitled to a tenure of office as president exceeding eight years beginning from 2007, till the last holder of the said office." But President Jonathan, through his counsel, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), said the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.

He stated that heenjoys immunity from civil and criminal proceedings brought against him in his personal capacity as president. He noted the the issue of eligibility to contest the 2015 election had been decided by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/2449/2012.

Jonathan further argued that since there is no law that bars him from running for the presidency, the plaintiffs had no cause of action against him as to entitle them to institute the action against him. However, in her ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike, dismissed the suit for lack of merit. The judge said the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to drag the president to court based on Section 308 of the constitution which gives him immunity not to sue or be sued.

She affirmed that Jonathan has the constitutional right to contest for presidency in 2015 if he so desires. The judge also said the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter since the plaintiffs did not follow the due process in filing their case, stressing that the petition was filed out of jurisdiction.

However, reacting to the judgment, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mohammed Ibrahim, faulted the technicalities on which the judge relied to deliver her judgment instead of looking at the matter on its merit. He said they would proceed to the Court of Appeal for further interpretation of the judgment of the court.

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