Former President Goodluck Jonathan can contest the 2023 presidential election, the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa has ruled.
The presiding judge, Justice Isa Hamma Dashen gave the judgment on Friday.
He also held that Jonathan’s right to vie for the office of president again cannot be stopped by any retroactive law.
In an origination summons filed by Andy Solomon and Idibiye Abraham, the plaintiffs had approached the court seeking an order of the court stating that Jonathan is not affected by the fourth alteration to the constitution barring Vice-Presidents who succeed their principals from serving more than one full term.
In the suit marked FHC/YNG/CS/86/2022 before Justice Isa Dashen, the All Progressives Congress, Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission were listed as defendants.
Apparently in a haste to ensure that judgment is delivered before the APC primary which is slated for Sunday, the plaintiffs requested an accelerated hearing via a motion ex parte.
The court had granted an accelerated hearing of the suit “having regard to the nature of the suit and the reliefs sought therein.”
The court had earlier directed the respondents to be served with the enrolment order alongside the originating summons and the defendants to file their responses.
Jonathan, who was elected as Vice-President alongside the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007, was inaugurated as President in 2010 following the death of Yar’Adua. In 2011, he ran for election and was again inaugurated.
In 2015, while running for another term, the courts ruled that Jonathan was eligible to contest as his first inauguration was done to complete Yar’Adua’s tenure.
However, in 2018 President Muhammadu Buhari signed the fourth alteration of the 1999 Constitution which bars Vice-Presidents who succeed their principals from serving more than one full term.
However, some have argued that the new provision ought not to apply to Jonathan as the law ought not to take a retroactive effect unless it was expressly stated.
It was reported by a national newspaper that the Presidency cabal led by Mamman Daura, the President’s influential nephew, is supporting Jonathan to succeed Buhari.
Daura had visited Jonathan’s Abuja home on Wednesday last week and the two were seen shaking hands in a photo posted by Sahara Reporters.
It was also reported that Jonathan had given the condition that he would only join the race if he was endorsed by the President supported through a consensus.
The National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, had also visited Jonathan twice in the last one week.
With the court ruling today coupled with the support he is receiving from the President’s men, Jonathan may be taking part in the Presidential primary of the APC slated for May 30.
It remained unclear if Jonathan is a member of the APC. However, Section 31.3 of the new APC constitution titled ‘waiver’, reads in part, “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may, in special circumstances, grant a waiver to a person seeking a national party office, who is otherwise not qualified under this constitution if, in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party.”
Should he be allowed to contest, the former President will be expected to go up against 25 other aspirants including APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu; the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Governor Dave Umahi, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, Governor Ben Ayade, Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Governor Badaru Abubakar, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Ajayi Boroffice and several others.