President Goodluck Jonathan has told an Abuja Federal High Court that he is eligible to contest the presidential election in 2015, even if it would mean staying in office for a total of more than eight years from the date he was initially inaugurated as President on May 6, 2010, following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The President made the statement through his lawyer, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, in response to a suit in which a Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Mr. Henry Amadi, asked the court to declare that Jonathan no longer qualified to run for office in 2015.
Amadi had argued that in doing so, Jonathan would be spending more than the constitutionally stipulated maximum period of eight years in office.
The plaintiff said he was a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The suit is similar to another one filed by another self-declared member of the PDP, Chief Cyriacus Njoku, before an Abuja High Court.
Njoku’s suit, which asked the court to stop Jonathan from running for office in 2015 on the grounds that he was currently serving his second term in office, having taken the oath of office as President twice already, has been adjourned for judgment.
In the new suit, which came up before an Abuja FHC presided by Justice Adamu Bello, on Wednesday, Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission were listed as the defendants.
The court was also asked to stop Jonathan from once again running for office when his current term expires in 2015.
However, in his counter affidavit to the plaintiff’s originating summons, Jonathan averred that he took the first oath of office on May 6, 2010, following Yar’Adua’s death.
Jonathan asked the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff had no locus standi to ask the court to stop him from running for office in 2015.
He described the plaintiff’s claims as “hypothetical and academic”, noting that he failed to disclose reasonable cause of action.
The matter was adjourned to January 23, 2013.
Okeaya-Inneh said, “The question that arises for determination is whether, having regard to the facts of this case, he (Jonathan) is in his first or second term.
“In other words, given that the Constitution prescribes a maximum of two terms of four years each totaling a maximum of eight years as President, is he eligible to run for re-election in 2015? “In resolving this issue, the court is invited to make a determination whether the period of May 6, 2010 to May 28, 2011 wherein Jonathan occupied the office of the President, can in law be regarded as one term of office and relevance of the oath of office Jonathan took on May 6, 2010 in computing the tenure of office of Jonathan in line with sections 135 (1) and (2), 137 (1)(b), 140 (1) and (2) and 146(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Source: Punch Newspaper