From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
The perceived ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential election has received the blessings of an Abuja High Court, which held that he was eligible to run for the election. Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi held that the tenure of President Jonathan started on May 29, 2011 and not May 2007, because he was not a presidential candidate in the 2007 general election. Besides, it was the position of the court that Jonathan assumed the office of the President by the doctrine of necessity following the death of the then President, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010.
A chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Cyriacus Njoku had dragged President Jonathan, PDP and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the High court seeking an order to prevent Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election, having taken the oath of office and oath of allegiance twice. The plaintiff, who is a card carrying member of PDP from Zuba Ward in Abuja, also sought for a perpetual order of injunction to stop PDP from nominating Jonathan for another presidential election and INEC from accepting any nomination of Jonathan as a presidential candidate.
But Justice Oniyangi, who upheld the submissions of the counsel representing Jonathan, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) agreed that Jonathan was not a presidential candidate of PDP in the 2007 election, but only assumed office in 2010 following the death of the elected President. The judge said the combine effects of Section 315 (2) and Section 137 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, which deal with qualification and tenure of office of the President cannot be used to disqualify Jonathan from 2015 presidential election in the absence of established facts that he has been elected twice in the previous elections.
Justice Oniyangi therefore held that, “if Jonathan so wish, he can seek for sponsorship of the PDP or any other political party of his choice to actualise his presidential ambition in 2015 “Let me put on record in order to guide against any mischief, that the court is not saying that the 1st defendant (Jonathan) is an automatic candidate of the PDP or any political party of his choice for 2015 presidential election”, the judge added. Besides, Justice Oniyangi held that part of the grounds of the plaintiff in the suit were speculative because he (plaintiff) failed to establish the fact that the Jonathan was warming up for the 2015 presidential election.
The court also held that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the legal action because he failed to disclose the injuries he will sustain if Jonathan and others are allowed to contest the presidential election with him in 2015. “From the fore-going, I hold that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to file the suit and where a plaintiff has no locus standi to institute a legal action, the court shall have no jurisdiction and in the circumstance, I hold that this court has no jurisdiction and the case is hereby struck out”, the judge held. The court therefore awarded a cost of N20, 000 each, in favour of President Jonathan and PDP to be paid by the plaintiff.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to the President, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) praised the court for the well considered judgment and advised politicians to always be guided by the principles of the law. However, counsels to the Plaintiff, Mr. Osuagwu Ugochukwu, said the issue of two oaths taken by Jonathan on two different occasions has not been resolved in the judgment and indicated that his client will appeal against the judgment.