A Federal High Court in Yenagoa has ruled that former President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible and qualified to contest the 2023 presidential elections.
The presiding judge, Justice Isa Dashen gave the judgement on Friday.
He ruled that the former President’s right to contest for the office of president again cannot be stopped by any retroactive law.
The suit was filed by Andy Solomon and Idibiye Abraham as first and second plaintiffs and listed Jonathan, the All Progressives Congress, and the Independent National Electoral Commission as first, second, and third defendants respectively.
But the APC and the INEC did not have any legal representations in the matter.
Solomon and Abraham, who are believed to be members of the APC, had approached the court through their counsels, Egbuwabi Seigha and Timi Robinson, seeking the disqualification of Jonathan from the 2023 presidential polls.
They argued that by virtue of the introduction of Section 137 sub-sections 1(b) and 3 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, the former president was no longer eligible to vie for the office of the president because he had taken an oath to that office on two previous occasions.
Delivering judgement on the matter on Friday, Justice Dashen dismissed the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs and held that the swearing in of Jonathan as acting president on May 6, 2010, after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was a constitutional provision.
According to him, the 2007 general election produced the late Yar’Adua as president and not Jonathan, stressing that Section 137 could not have a retroactive effect to stop him from contesting the forthcoming presidential polls.
Dashen ruled that there was no presidential election conducted in the country in 2010 and Jonathan could not be deemed to have been sworn into the office of the president that year.
He said that Section 137, which came into effect on June 7, 2018, following the fourth alteration to the constitution, “cannot apply retrospectively except the legislature in clear terms expressly stated their intention for it to be so.”
The judge rationalised if Jonathan had won his re-election bid in the 2015 general polls, in which he lost to the incumbent President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, he would have been inaugurated as president without any legal impediment.
He said, “In my opinion, the position being propounded by the first defendant (that he is eligible to contest) is tenable. It is the duty of the plaintiffs to direct this court where the legislature stated that the provisions of Section 137 sub-section 3 of the Constitution are to apply.
“I, therefore, find the arguments of the first defendant that he has only been elected into the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria only once and in the year 2011, not only irresistible but established, and I so hold.
Chronicle NG reports that Jonathan has denied dumping the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC but a recent picture with Mamman Daura, nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari has sparked talks that he is working behind the scenes.
The APC presidential primaries is scheduled for May 29 and many stakeholders within the party say it will be ridiculous that Jonathan will join the party within days and would emerge the party candidate.
Chronicle NG reports that some groups from northern Nigeria acquired the N100m expression of interest and nomination forms for the former President.