Court reserves ruling on Jonathan’s eligibility for re-election

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan

An Abuja Federal High Court on Monday adjourned a suit filed by Olatoye Wahab and Adejumo Ajegbe, seeking to disqualify President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election till January 12, 2015.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed said he will rule on the application on January 12, after he listened to the submissions of both counsel to the plaintiffs and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.

The plaintiffs had urged the court to determine whether the ​p​resident was constitutionally eligible to seek re-election, having participated as candidate and emerged winner in two previous presidential elections.

They contended that Mr. Jonathan had in 2007 contested and won presidential election on a joint ticket with late President Umaru Yar’Adua and in 2011, thereby taking oath of office twice.

They argued that Mr. Jonathan would have been sworn-in twice and spent a commutative period of more than eight years as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The plaintiffs also argued that by the combined effect of Section 135(2) (a) and (b) of the Nigerian Constitution, a person sworn-in twice as President is deemed to have been elected to that office twice.

They, therefore, urged the court to determine whether Mr. Jonathan, having been elected and sworn-in twice, would not have exhausted the constitutionally allowed maximum of two terms if allowed to seek re-election.

The Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mahmoud Magaji, on Monday, brought an application seeking to transfer the suit to the Court of Appeal for determination.

The application was opposed by the Attorney-General of the Federation’s counsel, who argued that “the Federal High Court is constitutionally empowered to interpret the constitution and determine the case.”

He said that the case bordered on interpretation of the provisions of the constitution and referring it to the Court of Appeal would amount to the trial court abandoning its responsibility.

Justice Mohammed, therefore, adjourned the case until January 12, 2015 for ruling on the application.


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