2015: Lawyers, Activist Ask Court to Stop Jonathan, Sambo from Contesting
Two lawyers and a human rights activist have asked Federal High Court in Abuja has been asked to restrain the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from fielding President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo as presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the forthcoming 2015 presidential election.
The plaintiffs, Mase Daphine Acho, Saeeq Umar Sarki (both lawyers) and Murtala Abubakar, said that Jonathan and Sambo were ineligible to be elected president and vice-president respectively.
The suit was filed Friday at the Federal High Court Abuja, barely a day after the PDP endorsed Jonathan as its sole candidate for the election.
They want the court to determine whether the first oath of office taken by Jonathan and Sambo on May 6 and 19, 2010 respectively, by virtue of section 146 of Constitution of the 1999 (As amended), should be taken into cognisance in determining the number of years that they have spent in offices for purpose of determining their eligibility to contest for another term of four years.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers, Mustapha Ibrahim, Mr. Abdul Mohammed and Aliyu Lemu, argued that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s decision in Marwa vs Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Part 1296) at 199, both Jonathan and Sambo are not qualified to be elected as president and vice-president respectively.
According to them, Jonathan and Sambo are caught by the provisions of the constitution, which state that no person can stay in office of the president and vice-president for a period beyond a period of eight years.
They said: “The current holders of the offices of the president and the vice-president, at the expiration of their current terms in office would have held their respective office for a period of five years.
They stated that Jonathan and Sambo had held office for two terms recognised by the 1999 Constitution to wit: (i) the first term was held to conclude the un-expired term of the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua between May 6, 2010 to May 29, 2011; (ii) the second term is still being served from May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2015.
The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that Jonathan and Sambo do not have the capacity to serve as president and vice-president respectively for another term of four years after the completion of their current terms in office in view of the combined effect of the provisions of sections 135(2) (a) and 137(b) of the constitution.
They further asked the court to declare that Jonathan and Sambo having already spent five years in office as president and vice-president respectively are not eligible to contest for the office of president and vice-president for another term of four years thereby amounting to a contravention of the combined provisions of sections 135(2) (a) and 137(b) of the Constitution.
Other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are: A declaration that the first oath of office subscribed to by Jonathan on May 6, 2010, being the oath of office administered to him to occupy the office of president for the purpose of completing the un-expired term of office of the late President (Umar Musa) Yar’Adua must be taken into cognisance in computing the number of years that he has served and can serve as president, in determining the effect of the combined provisions of sections 135(2) (a) and 137(1)(b) of the Constitution.
An order of the court restraining INEC from recognising Jonathan and Sambo as presidential and vice presidential candidates of the PDP or any other political party for the 2015 presidential elections.
The plaintiffs claimed that allowing Jonathan and Sambo to contest in the 2015 elections would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution, which they swore to uphold.
They said that the intervention of the court was required for an interpretation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
According to them, it will be a colossal waste of resources to allow Jonathan and Sambo to run even when they were ineligible to contest.
The defendants are yet to file their defence to the suit.
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