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I’m Qualified To Run for 2015 –Jonathan Proclaim
President Jonathan Goodluck has declared before an Abuja High Court that he is Qualified to contest the 2015 presidential election.
He based his qualification on the account that he is currently doing his first term of four years in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section 137(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution disqualifies any person who has been elected into the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria “at any two previous elections”, notwithstanding his meeting every other qualification.
Jonathan, however, declared at the weekend that contrary to the rumour making the rounds, he had not indicated or announced anywhere that he would be contesting for the presidential elections in 2015.
He made the clarifications on his qualification in his reaction to a suit filed by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before an Abuja High Court seeking its order to stop President Jonathan from contesting presidential election in 2015 on the ground that he is already in his second term in office.
The PDP chieftain, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, had on March 20, 2012 filed the suit following a declaration by the President in March that he is serving his first term in office.
The applicant, is, however, claiming that President Jonathan is running a second term in office and cannot be a candidate in 2015.
He also said the President could not swear to an oath of office thrice as contained in Section 137(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
Those joined in the matter are the President, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the third respondent.
But in a 15-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to by a counsel, Osahon Okeaya-Inneh in the law firm of President Jonathan’s lawyer, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh and Co., he described the suit as frivolous and vexatious that failed to disclose reasonable cause of action.
The deponent said:. “The first defendant is currently doing his first term of four years in office as the President of Nigeria as provided by the 1999 constitution as amended.
“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 recognises the President’s tenure of office to be four years.
“I was informed by Dr. Reuben Abati (an aide of the President) on April 4, 2012 at about 5.30 p.m. in his office and I verily believe that.
“The first defendant has not indicated or announced anywhere whether in words or in writing that he will contest for the presidential election in 2015.
‘The late President Umaru Yar’Adua contested and won the presidential election conducted in 2007 for one term of four years. He was the President from May 29, 2007 until sometime in May 2010 when he passed on. ‘Yar’Adua’s four years was to end in 2011.”
Jonathan also averred that on May 6, 2010, he was sworn in as the President after the death of President Yar’Adua, thereby completing Yar’Adua’s 12 months of the four-year tenure.
He insisted that this was the first time he was coming to power as the President of Nigeria through an election wherein he was voted as the presidential candidate of his party, PDP.
The President told the court that the plaintiff did not attach copies of his recent tax clearance certificate from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and his PDP membership card as proof of who he claimed to be.
Consequently, Jonathan asked the court to discountenance the suit as it was meant to make the court to labour in futility because the suit was purely an academic exercise. The applicant, however, through his counsel, Mr. Osuagwu Ugochukwu, raised two questions for determination by the court.
*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.
*Whether Section 137(1) (b) of the 1999 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 of office as President on May 29, last year.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, has fixed April 18 to hear President Jonathan’s application for an extension of time within which his lawyer can file his memorandum of appearance and counter-affidavit in response to the plaintiff’s suit dated March 20.
This is the second time that Njoku will take the President to court.
He had in August 2010 attempted to stop PDP from allowing him to participate in the PDP presidential primaries of January 2011.
Njoku, from Zuba Ward in Gwagwalada Area Council and with PDP registration number 1622735, had urged the court to ask the party to respect its principle on zoning formula in line with Article 7. 2(c) of the party’s constitution.
He said the declaration of Jonathan (third defendant) to contest the presidency on the PDP platform was contrary to Article7.2(c) of the PDP 2009 Constitution (as amended).
But the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Lawan Gummi, dismissed the suit.
I’m Qualified To Run for 2015 –Jonathan Proclaim
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