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Published On: Tue, Mar 18th, 2014

2015: Court strikes out suit challenging Jonathan’s eligibility

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high_court_lagos_federalFrom Femi Oyelola, Kaduna

A Federal High Court in Kaduna has struck out a suit seeking to restrain President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election in the 2015 general election brought before it by two chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The plaintiffs, Richard Mneaga, and Shuaibu Lill had sought for among other prayers, an order of the court to disqualify Jonathan from presenting himself as the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2015 election, and for the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission to restrain the PDP from accepting nomination of Jonathan as its presidential candidate in the 2015 election. In the suit, filed on October 7, 2013, they insisted that Jonathan had completed eight years in office as President of the country, since May 29, 2007.

The plaintiffs also sought for “a declaration that President Jonathan is not entitled to a tenure of office as President exceeding eight years calculated from 2007, till last holder of the said office”.

Ruling on the case, the presiding judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike said the plaintiffs lack the locus standi to drag President Jonathan to court based on section 308 of the constitution which gives him immunity not to sue or be sued, and therefore affirmed that Jonathan has the constitutional right to contest for presidency in 2015 if he so desire. She also said the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter since the plaintiffs did not follow the due process of filing their case, saying the petition was served out of jurisdiction and dismissed the case for lack of merit.

Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mohammed Ibrahim faulted the technicalities on which the judge relied to deliver her judgement saying there is some lacuna instead of looking into the matter on its merit. He however said they will proceed to the Appeal Court for further interpretation of the lower court judgment and also for the upper court to determine whether President Jonathan has the constitutional right to seek for another term in office in 2015.

Meanwhile, counsels to the first and second defendants, President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP hailed the judgment, describing it as another landmark victory for democracy and rule of law.


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