Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Following attempts by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to scuttle President Goodluck Jonathan’s speculated 2015 bid, the President has told an Abuja High Court that he is currently doing his first term of four years in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as provided by the 1999 constitution.
Jonathan also emphasized that he has not indicated or announced anywhere that he would contest the presidential elections in 2015.
The party’s chieftain, Mr Cyriacus Njoku who had attempted to stop the President from contesting the 2011 Presidential election on the ground that Jonathan’s candidacy violated the zoning principle of the party, had filed the present suit before an Abuja High Court last month. He is asking it to stop President Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential elections on the grounds that he is already in his second term in office.
The suit followed a declaration by the President sometime in March, that he is serving his first term in office.
Mr Njoku rejected that declaration and insisted that Jonathan is currently running a second term in office and cannot be a candidate in 2015. He also said the President cannot swear to an Oath of Office thrice in the light of 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.
But in a 15-paragraph counter affidavit filed by President Jonathan’s lawyer, Mr Ade Okeaya-Inneh, a senior advocate of Nigeria, the President described the suit as frivolous and vexatious having failed to disclose reasonable cause of action.
A senior Special Assistant to Jonathan, Mr Mattew Aikhionbare and Dr Reuben Abati, the Presidential Spokesman, in their depositions posited that President Jonathan is currently doing his first term of 4 years in office as the president of Nigeria as provided by the 1999 constitution as amended and that the President’s status and position is formidably backed by the 1999 costitution.
The Presidential aides argue that the constitution of Nigeria only makes provisions for a president to contest for not more than 2 terms of 4 years each and that their principal has not indicated or announced anywhere whether in words or in writing that he will contest for the presidential elections to be conducted in 2015.
“The Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua contested and won the presidential elections conducted in 2007 for a 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” they insisted.
Jonathan averred further that on May 6, 2010 he was sworn in as the president after the demise of the Late President Yar’Adua thereby completing Yara’Adua’s 12 months of the 4 years tenure.
He declared once more that this is the first time he is coming to power as the president of Nigeria through a conducted election wherein he was voted as the presidential candidate of his party, PDP.
Mr. Njoku had raised two questions for determination by the court. These are, 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, and 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 President Jonathan 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.
The presiding judge, Justice Mudashiru Onyangi, has fixed further hearing into the matter for 18th April.