March election: Appeal court clears the road for Jonathan

March election: Appeal court clears the road for Jonathan

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 7:30 pm

Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

The Court of Appeal siting in Abuja on Tuesday held that President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible to participate in the 28 March Presidential election for a chance to secure a second term of office as Nigeria’s President.

The court dismissed an appeal brought before it by a chieftain of the President’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging his eligibility to contest the now rescheduled election.

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

In a unanimous judgment Tuesday, the appellate court held that the President is qualified to seek for another term of office having not participated in the two previous elections for the office as prescribed by law.

The presiding Justice Abubakar Yahaya who delivered the lead judgment noted that the oath of office taken by Jonathan on May 6, 2010 to complete the tenure of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua was not on account of election required by law but by operations of the constitution.

In specific terms, the court held that Jonathan’s participation in the 2007 election was in the Vice Presidential capacity and that the oath he took on May 29, 2007 was for the office of vice President while late Yar Adua took oath of the President.

Furthermore Justice Yahaya held that for anybody to be said to have been in office of President for two terms in line with previous of section 135, that person must have been nominated by a political party twice, stood and won elections twice and took oath of office in the capacity of the President twice, adding that Jonathan took oath of office on May 6, 2010 for the purpose of completing the tenure of his late boss and that there was no nomination by any political party and no voting by Nigerians at that time.

The court agreed with the President’s lawyer, Mr. Ade Okeaya Ineh, a senior advocate of Nigeria, that the appeal is speculative and imaginary and ruled that President Jonathan is qualified to contest the office of the President in the forth coming elections.

The court added that President Jonathan’s second term tenure will not end on May 29, 2015 because his first tenure of office started in 2011, when he took the oath of office and allegiance as an elected President of the country and that it was not an election that produced Jonathan as President in May 2010, but a constitutional provision.

“The appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed, a cost of N50, 000 is hereby awarded against the appellant”, the court said and upheld the judgment of the trial court delivered on March 1, 2013 which decided the matter in favour of the President.

Cyriacus Njoku had, approached an Abuja High Court where he asked the court to declare that the tenure of President Jonathan began on May 6th, 2010 when his first term began and that his two terms shall end on May 29, 2015 having taken his second Oath on May 29th, 2011.

He also asked the court to stop the President from further contesting or attempting to vie for the office of the President of Nigeria.

However, on March 13, 2013, the trial court delivered its judgment and held that President Jonathan was free to contest the 2015 presidential election if he so wishes.
On April 16, 2013, Njoku filed a notice of appeal asking the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the Abuja court as delivered by Justice Oniyangi and to grant all the reliefs sought by him.

While the appeal was pending, President Jonathan indicated his interest and collected the presidential nomination form of the PDP and declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election.

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