The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday joined the debate over the President’s political future, saying if Dr Goodluck Jonathan runs in 2015, he will not hurt any Nigerian’s right to contest against him.
The party also said the President is in his first term, which will end in 2015.
The party’s stand on the controversy, which is the subject of a legal battle, is stated in a notice of preliminary objection to an application to stop Jonathan from running. It urged the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to dismiss the suit filed by a member of the party, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku.
The applicant had, through his counsel, Mr. Osuagwu Ugochukwu, raised two questions for determination by the court.
•Whether Section 135(2) of the Constitution, which specifies a period of four years in office for the President, is only available or applicable to a person elected on the basis of an actual election or includes one in which a person assumes the position of President by operation of law, as in the case of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; and
•whether Section 137(1) (b) of the Constitution, which provides that a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President, if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections, applies to the first defendant, who first took an oath of office as substantive President on May 6, 2010 and took a second oath as President on May 29, 2011.
But the PDP, through an affidavit sworn to by Nanchang Ndam of its Legal Unit, said Jonathan’s aspiration in 2015 would not jeopardise any other Nigerian’s interest.
He said: “That also contrary to the depositions in paragraphs 4, 7 and 8 of the said affidavit, the first defendant will only be completing his first term of office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May 2015.
“That the first defendant has contested election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria only once, and that is at the April 2011 general election.
“That if the first the defendant vies for President in 2015, the plaintiff and other eligible Nigerians would not be denied the opportunity of taking a shot at the presidency in 2015 as they would join the first defendant in the contest whether within the auspices of the second defendant or on the platform of other political parties.”
The party urged the court to “strike out the suit for lack of competence and want of jurisdiction on the part of the honourable court to entertain and determine same”.
It added: “The suit discloses no cause of action; and the plaintiff lacks the locus standi to bring this action.
“That the affidavit is full of half truths and untruths contrived to mislead this Honourable Court into granting the prayers the plaintiff is seeking.
“That the second defendant (PDP) has millions of members spread over the length and breadth of Nigeria and its branches/chapters abroad.
“That the interest the plaintiff claims in bringing this suit is one which he shares with millions of other members of the second defendant in all geopolitical zones of the country.
“That contrary to the depositions of paragraph 3 of the said affidavit, the third defendant (INEC) has not given notice of poll for the 2015 general elections and so nominations have not opened for those seeking to contest the office of President in the election.
“That neither the PDP nor any political party has started selling or issuing nomination forms for the 2015 presidential elections and the plaintiff has not bought or obtained any such form from the second defendant or any other political party.
“That it is only in 2014 or thereabouts when the third defendant (INEC) gives notice of poll enabling political parties, including the PDP, to nominate their candidates for the presidential elections that it would be known whether the plaintiff or the first defendant would vie for President in 2015.
The aggrieved PDP member, Cyriacus Njoku, is seeking a declaration that
•the President’s tenure of office began on May 6, 2010 when his first term began and his two terms shall end on May 29, 2015 after taking his second oath of office on May 29, 2011;
•by virtue of Section 136 (1) (b) of the Constitution, no person (including the first defendant) shall take the oath of allegiance and the oath of office prescribed to in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution more than twice; and
•an order of injunction restraining the first defendant from further contesting or attempting to vie for President after May 29, 2015 when his tenure shall by the Nigerian Constitution afforested ends.
Njoku is also seeking:
•an order of injunction restraining the second defendant from further sponsoring or attempting to sponsor the first defendant as candidate for election to the office of the President in the 2015; and
•an order directing the third defendant from accepting the name of the first defendant where sponsored by his party again to run for president in the 2015 presidential election to be supervised and conducted by the third defendant (INEC).