by Rachel Ogbu
In response to a suit in which a Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Henry Amadi, asked the court to declare that Jonathan no longer qualified to run for office in 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan told an Abuja Federal High Court that he is eligible to contest the presidential election in 2015.
Even if it meant the president would stay in office for a total of more than eight years from the date he was initially inaugurated as President on May 6, 2010, after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, the President who making a statement through his lawyer, Ade Okeaya-Inneh, said that he was a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
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 totalling a maximum of eight years as President, is he eligible to run for re-election in 2015?
President Jonathan maintained that he took the first oath of office on May 6, 2010, following Yar’Adua’s death but 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.
In a similar suit before an Abuja High Court, Cyriacus Njoku, a self-declared member of the PDP said President Jonathan should not be allowed more than the constitutionally stipulated maximum period of eight years in office.
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 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,” Okeaya-Inneh said.
The matter was adjourned to January 23, 2013.