The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has cleared President Goodluck Jonathan to seek for re-election on March 28.
A 5-man panel of Justices of the court, in a unanimous judgment, Monday, held that Jonathan is legally qualified to run for a second term in office.
According to the court panel, the raging contention that under section 135(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, President Jonathan is not eligible to partake in the forthcoming presidential election having already taken the oath of office and oath of allegiance for the office of the presidency twice, was not founded in law.
The court maintained that the first oath Jonathan took on May 6, 2010, was only to enable him to complete the unexpired tenure of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua as stipulated in Section 146(1) of the constitution, saying his first tenure as substantive President of Nigeria commenced on May 29, 2011, when he was administered the second oath of office.
Justice Abubakar Yahaya who delivered the lead judgment, stressed that Jonathan has only been elected as President once and the court could only disqualify him if it can prove that the initial oath he took in 2010 was a fallout out of an election.
Consequently, the appellate court, while dismissing the appeal that was lodged against President Jonathan by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Cyriacus Njoku, affirmed a previous verdict that was delivered by trial Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the FCT High Court on March 1, 2013.
The panel held that Njoku’s appeal lacked in merit. It therefore directed him to pay a cost of N50,000 to both President Jonathan and the PDP, who he had cited as 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit.
“Our constitution is the grand norm and it is sacrosanct. The 1999 constitution is the foundation upon which the democracy we practice is anchored. It is therefore a document that must be respected, appreciated and obeyed by all of us,” Yahaya said.