Lagos, Nigeria - President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday won a key legal battle ahead of the 2015 presidential race, following a ruling by a High Court in Abuja, the Nigerian Federal capital city, that he (Jonathan) was free to seek re-election in 2015 if he so desires.
Local media reports quoted the court, presided over by Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, as ruling that President Jonathan is currently on his first term of four years, stressing that “if he so wishes, he can seek from his political party or any other party, the sponsorship to contest in the 2015 presidential election.”
Justice Oniyangi based his ruling on the provisions of Section 137(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the reports indicated.
The court further held that under the law, Jonathan’s tenure commenced on 29 May, 2011, saying he only assumed the presidential seat in 2010 following the death of his boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who it said duly contested and won the 2007 presidential election.
Justice Oniyangi further maintained that “the distinguishing factor is that after the election of Yar’Adua, there was no election or bye-election upon which Jonathan became president. He was merely asked to assume the position.
“He was not elected into the position but was asked to assume the position. Having exhausted that tenure, he sought and obtained the ticket of the party to contest the 2011 presidency.'
Justice Oniyangi therefore dismissed the prayer of the plaintiff, Cyriacus Njoku, a PDP member, that the president’s tenure should count from 6 May, 2010, when he was first sworn in on the strength of the 'doctrine of necessity' activated by the National Assembly.
Njoku had approached the court following a statement credited to the President that he is serving his first term in office.
The President, he claimed, could not be a candidate in 2015 because he was running a second term in office.
The Plaintiff also sought a perpetual order of injunction to stop the PDP from nominating Jonathan for the election, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting his name as a presidential candidate.