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Published On: Sun, Sep 21st, 2014

2015: Jonathan not eligible, lawyers tell court

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jonathan-sadBy Tobi Soniyi

A Federal High Court in Abuja has been asked to restrain the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from fielding Dr Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo as presidential and vice presidential candidates for the forthcoming 2015 Presidential Elections.

 The plaintiffs Mase Daphine Acho, Saeeq Umar Sarki (both lawyers) and Murtala Abubakar said that Jonathan and Sambo were ineligible to be elected president and vice president respectively.

Jonathan, Sambo, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) were named as 1st to 4th defendants in the suit.

The suit was filed last Friday, 19th September 2014.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers Mustapha Ibrahim, Mr Abdul Mohammed and Aliyu Lemu argued that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s decision in Marwa V Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Part 1296) at 199, both Jonathan and Sambo were not qualified to be elected as President and Vice-President respectively.

According to them, Jonathan and Sambo are caught by the provisions of the Constitution which state that no person can stay in office of the president and vice president for a period beyond a period of 8 years.

It would be recalled that a constitutional lawyer, Umar Ardo had also written to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying that President Jonathan’s lacked eligibility to contest the 2015 election.

In the letter titled “Constitutional Impediments To Jonathan’s Candidacy In 2015: An Open Letter To PDP” dated September 19, 2014,Ardo stated that any person of average intellect who read the 1999 constitution (as amended) along with four key judgments of the Supreme Court (INEC Vs Boni Haruna, Peter Obi Vs Chris Ngige, Ladoja Vs INEC and INEC Vs 5 PDP Governors) would easily conclude that President Jonathan’s eligibility to contest for another 4-year term in 2015 or at any other time thereafter under the present constitution is impeded.

According to him, “This argument is premised on the fact that what constitutionally applies to the governor on the issue of eligibility or otherwise to contest elections is ipso facto applicable to the president. In those judgments, the apex court had established the relationship between the governor and his deputy on the issue of succession (Boni Haruna); determined the holding of office in a term at 4 years (Peter Obi); affirmed that a governor can stay less but not more than 4 years in a term (Ladoja); and declared that tenure of the executive in office is a cumulative maximum period of 8 years and not a day longer (5 PDP governors).”

He said by 29 May 2015, President Jonathan would be 5 years 23 days as President of the country. If the president contests and wins the 2015 presidential elections or at any other time later, he will exceed the cumulative tenure of 8 years maximum period as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Therefore such a contest will be unconstitutional.

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