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Court refers another Jonathan eligibility suit to appeal



THE Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Tuesday referred another suit ‎questioning the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the March 28 presidential polls to the Court of Appeal.

   Plaintiffs in the suit, Mase Daphine Acho, Sadeeq Umar Sarki and Murtala Abubakar had on September 19, 2014 dragged President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) before the court.

   They contended that Jonathan is ineligible to run and emerge as president, having taken the Oath of Office twice for the same office. However, Jonathan prayed the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

   When the matter came up yesterday, the trial judge, Justice A.R Mohammed, said he had considered the four issues formulated for determination and the eight reliefs sought by the plaintiffs and found them same in content and fact with another earlier referred to the Court of Appeal for judicial interpretation of Section 135 and 137 as they relate to the tenure of the President.

   He further noted that no court had pronounced on the issue before now. Justice Mohammed, after hearing from the plaintiffs that they have no objection to the referral request, referred the matter to the Court of Appeal.

   The plaintiffs in the suit had argued that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s decision in Marwa V Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Part 1296), both Jonathan and Sambo were 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 also argued that the current holders of the offices of president and vice, at the expiration of their current terms in office, would have held their respective offices for a period of five years.

   They further contended that the duo had held office for two terms recognized by the 1999 Constitution to wit: (i) the first term was held to conclude the unexpired 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 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.

   Also, they asked the court to ‎declare that Jonathan and Sambo, having already spent five years in office as president and vice respectively, are not eligible to contest for the same offices for another term of four years, which will hen amount to a contravention of the combined provisions of sections 135(2) (a) and 137(b) of the constitution.

   They want a declaration that the first oath of office subscribed to by Jonathan on May 6, 2010, being the oath of office administered on him to occupy the office for the purpose of completing the unexpired term of office of the late President Yar’Adua must be considered in computing the number of years 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.

   They equally want an order restraining INEC from recognizing Jonathan and Sambo as presidential and vice presidential candidates of the PDP or any other political party for the 2015 presidential elections.

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