A 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.
This came as a political pressure group under the aegis of Operation Quarantine Ebola Political Parties-Jonathan/Sambo Tag-Team for 2015 (OQEPP/JSTT) has given Jonathan up till two weeks to declare his aspiration for next year’s election or face a legal action.
Jonathan, Sambo, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) were named as 1st to 4th defendants in the suit.
The suit was filed on September 19.
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.
Meanwhile, the OQEPP/JSTT explained that it was dangerous for the president to be complacent in his approach by keeping silent on his ambition.
The group also argued that it was wise to make hay, while the ovation is loudest or to hit the nail while the iron is hot, pointing out that the best time to speak up is now.
Interim Director of Mobilisation of the group, Mallam Al-Mustapha Usman, issued the ultimatum on behalf of the group in a statement made available to journalists in Kano yesterday after its meeting in Benin City at the weekend.
The statement said it was unfair for president to keep his supporters in the dark, saying the silence was capable of causing heart problems and grave disappointments to Nigerians if he continues to remain silent over the issue of national importance.
It insists that “it is even worse for some of us who are his ardent followers, as we have become a laughing stock for staking our neck for him while he keep silent with the PDP primaries around the corner and the general election in a couple of months.”
The statement further revealed that, it was high time for Jonathan to break his silence, not just because the PDP would soon organise its primaries, which of course would have him contest against himself, the group is also keen on who he picks as his running mate.
He disclosed that OQEPP/JSTT was prepared to mobilise over 90 per cent of those registered by INEC to vote in the forthcoming general poll to ensure he is re-elected alongside his deputyAlhaji Namadi Sambo.
On whether General Muhammadu Buhari or former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar cannot displace Jonathan, the statement revealed that the issue is not whether they are qualified to rule the country or not, but that who is more qualified, adding that the incumbent has the prerequisite of a good leader and should be allowed to continue.