Jonathan asks Appeal Court to dismiss suit against second term bid

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Mar 11th, 2014
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President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the Court of Appeal to strike out a suit challenging his eligibility to seek a second term.

He raised a technical point on why the appeal by a member of his party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, should not be entertained.

Dr. Jonathan said the appeal filed against him did not comply with Order 18 Rule 2, of the Court of Appeal Rules.

He asked the court to dismiss the appeal because the time within which Njoku ought to file his brief of argument had elapsed.

In 2012, the appellant, through his counsel, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, approached the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to declare that President Goodluck Jonathan was spending his second term in office as the nation’s leader.

He said Jonathan ran for president in his first term in office on a single and inseparable ticket with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

He said the 1999 Constitution does not make provisions for separate elections for the office of the president and vice-president adding that the ticket with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, made it Jonathan’s first term in office.

But on March 1, 2013, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi said Jonathan could contest in 2015.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Njoku headed for the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.

He sought two issues for determination. These are;

• Whether Section 135(2) of the Constitution which specifies a period of four years in office for the President is only available or applicable to a person elected on the basis of an actual election or includes one in which a person assumes the position of President by operation of law as in the case of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

• Whether Section 137(1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which provides that a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections applies to the 1st Defendant who first took an Oath of Office as substantive President on May 6, 2010 and took a second Oath of Office as President on May 29, 2011.

But in response to the Motion on Notice, the President through his counsel, Ade Okeaya-Inneh and K. M. Nomeh, sought for an order “dismissing the appeal for want of diligent prosecution and for such other order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

The President based his application on the following grounds:

“The judgment of the lower court was delivered on the 1st of March 2013 by Honourable Justice M. N. Oniyangi of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“The Appellant filed his Notice of Appeal on the 16th of April, 2013 against the said judgment of the lower court.

“The First Respondent was served with the Appellant’s Record of Appeal in July 2013. By the provisions of Order 18 Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2011, the Appellant is mandated to file his brief of argument within 45 days of the receipt of the record of appeal from the court below.

“The time within which the Appellant shall file his brief of argument under the rules has elapsed.

“By Order 18 Rule 10 of the rules of this Honourable Court, this Court is empowered to dismiss the Appellant’s Appeal for want of prosecution. That it will be in the interest of justice if this application is granted.”

The counsel to the appellant, Osuagwu however said: “We wrote a letter to the Court of Appeal two months ago for a date to hear our motion for extension of time to compile and serve Record of Appeal but the court refused to give date.”

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