Law News
Suit on Jonathan’s Eligibility Moves to S’Court as Ardo Loses at Appeal Court
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 PDP presidential aspirant from Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo
A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant from Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court following the dismissal of his suit against President Goodluck Jonathan’s eligibility to contest the 2015 presidential election by the Court of Appeal.

Ardo. in a brief interview with THISDAY after the suit was struck out Thursday, said: “Yes, my application to be joined as an interested party was dismissed. I will, of course, institute an appeal immediately at the Supreme Court praying the apex court to not only set aside the ruling of the Appeal Court but to also go ahead and determine the substantive matter.”

According to Ardo who was also a former governorship aspirant in Adamawa State: “It is sad the Appeal Court gave this ruling not minding the fact that liberal access to court by citizens is the hallmark of a civilised society. It is a barometer distinguishing between a good democratic society and a bad one.”

He continued: “But beyond that, I also object to the fact that a matter of this nature, challenging the eligibility of President Jonathan, was given to a judge whose background is inherently unlikely to dispense justice. Not only that the presiding judge is from Bayelsa State, and from Ogbia Local Government Area, the same local government with President Jonathan, and from Otuegwe village, a sister village of Jonathan’s Otuoke community, but also along with the president, is generally believed to belong to the Ogbia brotherhood, a socio-politcal organisation established to advance the cause of Ogbia people worldwide.

Insisting that the presiding judge ought to have disqualified himself from the suit, Ardo said, “Under such circumstances it is my conviction that justice cannot be served. If there was any intention to serve justice to this case, such a judge should not have been appointed to preside on this panel, and where appointed, having regard to the possible effect to the integrity and independence of the judiciary, he should have honourably disqualified himself.

“Both the Appeal Court and the justice himself, should have taken cue from a similar matter involving President Jonathan which was assigned to a judge from Bayelsa State, but the judge disqualified himself on the ground that he may not do justice to the matter and the case was subsequently returned to the FCT Chief Judge for assignment to another Judge from another state.

“The fact that this did not happen in this instance case is to me a clear indication that justice was not meant to be served in the matter ab initio,” Ardo told THISDAY.

In view of this, he said, “Nonetheless, I am bound by the judgment and I will pay the N100,000 cost put on me, but will appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.”

Also, in another suit challenging the president’s eligibility to contest the 2015 election, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has asked a Federal High Court to dismiss two suits seeking to stop the President Goodluck Jonathan  from participating in the 2015 presidential election.

In separate preliminary objections filed by  Ade Okeaya-Imeh (SAN), the AGF said the plaintiffs were mere busy bodies who had no legal standing to challenge the decision of the president to seek a second term in office.
Issues raised as objections centred on jurisdiction of the court to hear the cases and locus standi of the plaintiffs.

A similar suit is also pending before the same court.
The cases have been fixed for December 1.

A member of the president’s political party the PDP and a member of  the All Progressives Congress (APC) filed the suit.

The plaintiffs among others sought to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from allowing Jonathan to participate in the 2015 presidential election.

The plaintiffs are Adejumo Mansouru Ajagbe (a member of the PDP from Lagos State) and Olatoye Wahab (a member of the APC from Osun State) as plaintiffs while  the AGF and INEC as the defendants.

The plaintiffs argued that by  the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President, having contested the presidential election twice, won and taken the oath of office and allegiance twice in respect that office, he could no longer present himself for election to that office the third time.

The case was filed  by James Ocholi, Abiodun Owonikoko, Okon Efut and Mahmud Magaji (all SANs).

They relied on the provisions of sections 132(1), 135(2)(a) and (b), 137(1)(b), 142(1) and (2) and the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Marwa and Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Part 1296) 199 at 306.

The plaintiffs argued that by the provision of the 1999 Constitution, the president and vice-president, who were elected in the same election and sworn into office on the same date and at the same ceremony are, in law, taken to have been elected for one single term of four years notwithstanding the death or even impeachment of the President.

“That being so, the reference to “two previous elections” in Section 137(1)(b) of the Constitution includes two previous oath of allegiance and oath of office as president. It is therefore safe to conclude that a vice-president, who had taken the oath of allegiance and oath of office for two previous terms as president is, in law, deemed to have been elected into the Office of the president at two previous elections, thereby standing disqualified to contest another election into that office.”

They raised five questions for the court’s determination and are seeking seven reliefs, to include an order of  perpetual injunction, restraining the AGF and INEC from accepting as candidate in the 2015 presidential election any body caught by “two previous election limit and eight year term limit.”

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