Two politicians, Adejumo Ajagbe and Olatoye Wahab, have filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to stop President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo, from re-contesting in 2015.
The plaintiffs argued that by the virtue of constitutional provisions, the President and the Vice President elected in the same election and sworn into office on the same date and ceremony are taken to have been elected for one single term of four years.
This they argue remains the position notwithstanding the death or the impeachment of any of them.
Incidentally, the suit was filed on September 19, the same day, three other plaintiffs, Mase Acho, Saeeq Sarki (both lawyers) and Murtala Abubakar, jointly filed a similar suit before the same court seeking a declaration that President Jonathan and Sambo were ineligible to re-contest.
Ajagbe, who claimed to be a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, and Wahab, a member of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, said they were presidential aspirants whose interest would be jeopardized if both Jonathan and Sambo were not barred.
The two plaintiffs, who engaged four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, joined the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation as the defendants.
The SANs engaged by the plaintiffs are James Ocholi, A. J. Owonikoko, Okon Efut and Mahmud Magaji.
Relying on the provisions of sections 132(1), 135(2)(a) and (b), 137(1)(b), 142(1) and (2) of the Constitution and the Supreme Court decisions, the lawyers are among others, seeking an order restraining INEC and the AGF from allowing Jonathan and Sambo to seeking re-election for their respective offices in 2015.
The suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/662/2014, has been assigned to Justice Ahmed Mohammed but the two defendants have yet to respond to it.
The plaintiffs argue that by the virtue of the oaths taken by Jonathan and Sambo following the death of President Umaru Yar’adua in 2010 and their subsequent re-election in 2011, both of them were deemed to have completed the two terms allowed by law.
Their statement of claim read in part, “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 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, including an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the AGF and INEC from accepting as candidate in the 2015 presidential election anybody caught by “two previous election limit and eight year term limit.”
One of the questions they raised for determination read, “Whether a general election could be held into the office of the President when the incumbent President will only have spent a cumulative period of six years in office so that his re-election will be for no more than two additional years having regard to the time expressly specified for holding of general election to the office of President under Section 132(2) of the Constitution and the maximum term allowed any person under Section 135 of the Constitution.”
They also sought the following prayers, “A declaration that by the provisions of Section 135(1)(2) and (2a) of the Constitution, any person holding the office of the President cannot continued to act in that capacity for a period exceeding eight years from the date he/she first took or is deemed to have first taken the oath of allegiance and oath of office, with the exception of the provision of Section 135(3) of the Constitution.
“A declaration that a general election cannot be due to be held when the incumbent President will only have spent a cumulative period of six years in office so that his re-election will be for no more than two additional years having regard to the time expressly specified for holding of general election to the office of President under Section 132 (2) of the Constitution and the maximum term allowed any person under Section 135 of the Constitution.
“A declaration that the 1st defendant (AGF) cannot lawfully advise the 2nd defendant (INEC) to accept as candidate for election to the office of the President, an aspirant who is caught by two previous elections limit and the eight-year term limit in the 2015 elections or any subsequent presidential election.”