Goodluck Jonathan is Constitutionally Qualified to Contest 2023 Presidential Election – Court Rules


Alt: = "Former President Goodluck Jonathan"

A Federal High Court sitting in Bayelsa has declared that former President Goodluck Jonathan is constitutionally qualified to contest for president in Nigeria. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2018 signed the fourth amendment of the 1999 Constitution which prohibits  Vice-Presidents who succeed their principals from serving more than one full term.

Jonathan was Nigeria’s vice-president between 2007 and 2010 under late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and later became the president in May 2010 following the death of Yar’Adua and completed the latter’s tenure.

He contested and won the 2011 presidential election but lost his attempt to secure a second term in office in 2015.

The case with suit no FHC/YNG/CS/86/2022 instituted by  Andy Solomon and Idibiye Abraham where All Progressives Congress, Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission were listed as defendants, asked the court to decide if Jonathan “is pre-eminently constitutionally, morally and legally qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election.”

Apparently in a haste to ensure that the judgement was delivered before the APC primary which is scheduled for Sunday, the plaintiffs, which are believed to be Jonathan’s proxies, prayed for an accelerated hearing through an ex parte motion.

Report by SaharaReporters suggests that the judgment was part of the plans of the Aso Rock cabal supporting Jonathan to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.

SaharaReporters on Thursday reported that Jonathan secretly submitted the N100 million form said to have been purchased for him by a Funani group a few days earlier to the National Chairman of the ruling party, Abdullahi Adamu.

“His form has secretly been submitted. He submitted his nomination form through the APC Chairman a few days ago,” a source in the ruling party privy to information had said.

“Members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabal are still pushing for Jonathan to become the party’s consensus candidate.”

Jonathan had earlier rejected the presidential form of the ruling APC purchased for him, saying purchasing presidential form for him without his consent is an insult to him, according to press statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze.

One of the reasons the cabals in the presidency want Goodluck Jonathan to come back as president is for power to return to the North after four years for the fact that Jonathan cannot spend more than one term in office, if they can manage to get him there.

Following speculations that Jonathan was intending to defect to the ruling APC and to contest for Nigeria’s president on the platform of the party, some Nigerians, including human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), argued that his candidature will breach the constitution.

Falana had based his argument on Section 137 (3) of the Constitution, which provides as follows: “A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as president shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term.”

Falana had said, “Some people have said that the amendment is not retrospective and therefore cannot apply to Dr Jonathan.

Assuming without conceding that the amendment is not retrospective it is submitted that under the current Constitution a President or Governor cannot spend more than two terms of eight years.

“In other words, the Constitution will not allow anyone to be in office for more than a cumulative period of 8 years. In Marwa v. Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt.1296) 199 at 387 the Supreme Court stated that Section 180 (1) and (2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has prescribed a single term of 4 years and if a second term, another period of 4 years and not a day longer.

“In the case of Governor Ladoja v INEC (2008)40 WRN 1 the Supreme Court rejected the prayer of Governor Ladoja for 11 months’ extension to cover the period he was kept out of office through illegal impeachment. The Supreme Court rejected the prayer on the ground that a Governor is entitled to spend a maximum period of eight years or less and not more than eight years.

“It is not in dispute that Dr. Jonathan became the President of Nigeria in 2010 following the sudden death of President Umaru Yar’Adua. He later contested and won the 2011 presidential election. Having spent five years in office as President, Dr. Jonathan is disqualified from contesting the 2023 presidential election. The reason is that if he wins the election, he will spend an additional term of four years. It means that he would spend a cumulative period of 9 years as President of Nigeria in utter breach of Section 137 of the Constitution which provides for a maximum two terms of eight years.”

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