Law News
Plaintiffs withdraw eligibility suit against Jonathan

The plaintiffs in one of the suits before a Federal High Court, Abuja, to challenge the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek re-election in the March 28 presidential election have withdrawn the case.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Wednesday struck out the suit following an application by the plaintiffs to discontinue the suit.

The court also ordered the plaintiffs to pay N50,000 to Jonathan, whose lawyers had been made to file responses before the decision to withdraw the suit.

The plaintiffs are Prof. Tunde Samuel, Dr. Junaidu Mohammed, Mr. Rasak Adeogun and Yahaya Ezeemoo Ndu. President Jonathan was the only defendant in the suit.

The court had on February 3, 2015 fixed Wednesday for the hearing of the suit. But the notice of discontinuance of the suit was filed on February 4.

A counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr. Alex Akoja, who appeared in court on Wednesday, said the plaintiffs gave the instruction to withdraw the suit and the notice of discontinuance was subsequently filed on February 4.

Jonathan’s counsel, Mr. Ade Okeanya-Inneh (SAN), did not oppose the application but asked for cost on the grounds that the calibre of six senior counsel, including Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), who filed the suit ought to have weighed the merit of the case before instituting it.

He added that his client was entitled to cost because he had been made to file responses to the suit.

The court agreed with the defence counsel, and therefore in striking out the suit, it awarded the cost of N50,000 against the plaintiffs.

There are about two other suits challenging Jonathan’s eligibility to seek another term in office, still pending before Justice Mohammed.

On Monday, the judge referred one of the cases to the Court of Appeal for determination following an application filed on November 28 by the plaintiffs in the suit – Adejumo Ajagbe and Olatoye Wahab.

The ruling by the court on Monday now made it the second of such cases pending before the Court of Appeal.

The plaintiffs in the suits, including the one that was withdrawn on Wednesday, contended that Jonathan was ineligible to re-contest for the office of the President, arguing that allowing him to do so could amount to spending more than eight years allowed for anyone to serve in the office.

They asked the court to declare that it was “unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal and not permissible for any person to occupy the office of the president of Nigeria for more than a cumulative and aggregate period of eight years when the country was not at war.”

They argued contended that if Jonathan won another term of four years from 2015, he would have been permitted to occupy the office of the President for more than eight years.

The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that in computing the period already spent in office as President by Jonathan, the period from May 6, 2010 to May 28, 2011 should be reckoned with.

They also sought a declaration that having spent a period of more than four years in office as President since May 6, 2010, Jonathan no longer had the “competence, authority or entitlement to contest for the same office for another term of four years.”

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