Court decides Jonathan’s fate today, ex-president gets waiver

A Federal High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, will rule Friday (today) on the eligibility of former President Goodluck Jonathan to run for President even as The punch learned on Thursday that the presidential cabal led by the president’s influential nephew, Mamman Daura, had thrown its weight behind Jonathan.

It comes at a time when the All Progressives Congress has granted the former president a waiver to challenge.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on Thursday evening, one of Jonathan’s aides said: “The road is now perfectly clear, we give glory to God.”

Another source, in a message sent to our journalist noted: “GEJ has finally obtained the exemption, he will contest on Sunday”.

In a subpoena filed by Andy Solomon and Idibiye Abraham, plaintiffs seek a court order stating that Jonathan is unaffected by the fourth amendment to the constitution barring vice presidents who succeed their constituents from serving more than a full term.

In the lawsuit marked FHC/YNG/CS/86/2022 which is before Judge Isa Dashen, the All Progressives Congress, Jonathan and the Independent National Election Commission are listed as defendants.

Seemingly in a rush to ensure judgment is delivered before the CPA primary scheduled for Sunday, the plaintiffs requested an expedited hearing via an ex parte motion.

The court granted an expedited hearing of the lawsuit “given the nature of the lawsuit and the relief sought.”

The court also ordered the respondents to be served with the recording order with the original subpoena and the defendants to file their responses.

It was learned that after the filing of affidavits, counter-affidavits and other affidavits, Judge Dashen has set May 27 for judgment.

Jonathan, who was elected vice president alongside late president Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007, was inaugurated as president in 2010 following Yar’Adua’s death. In 2011, he stood for election and was again invested.

In 2015, while running for another term, the courts ruled that Jonathan was eligible to contest as his first nomination was made to complete Yar’Adua’s term.

However, in 2018 the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired), signed the Fourth Amendment to the 1999 Constitution which prohibits Vice Presidents who succeed their principals from serving more than one full term.

However, some have argued that the new provision should not apply to Jonathan as the law should not have retroactive effect unless expressly stated.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Thursday that the presidency cabal led by Daura, the president’s influential nephew, is backing Jonathan to succeed Buhari.

Daura had visited Jonathan’s home in Abuja on Wednesday and the two were seen shaking hands in a photo published by Sahara Reporters.

Sources, however, said The punch that Jonathan had given the condition that he would only join the race if approved by the president backed by consensus

The punch had quoted sources within the APC as saying that the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had visited Jonathan twice in the past week.

A Fulani group had purchased the N100m presidential form of the APC for the ex-president. Jonathan had expressed his disapproval of the purchase of the form but he had continued to woo the APC.

The punch learned that if the court gives Jonathan the green light to contest, coupled with the support he receives from the president’s men, Jonathan could participate in the APC presidential primary scheduled for May 30.

At press time, it was unclear if Jonathan was a member of the APC. However, Article 31.3 of the new CPA constitution, titled “Waiver”, reads in part as follows: “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may, in special circumstances , to grant a waiver to a person seeking to hold national party office, who is otherwise not qualified under this constitution if, in its opinion, such waiver is in the best interest of the party.

If allowed to compete, the former president will face 25 other aspirants, including APC stalwart Bola Tinubu; former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Governor Dave Umahi, Governor Ben Ayade, Senate Speaker Ahmad Lawan; Governor Badaru Abubakar, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Ajayi Boroffice and several others.

As of Thursday evening, it was still unclear whether the president had bought into Jonathan’s idea, as he had not revealed his preferred candidate to the governors.

The party had also failed to organize its presidential screening four days before the primary.

“At the moment only Buhari and the APC president (Adamu) really know what is going on. We are all confused,” said one of the APC presidential candidates who asked not to to be named.

Contacted, Founder, Tinubu Support Group, Mr. James Faleke, expressed confidence in Tinubu’s victory provided the primary is held in a free and fair manner.

Faleke said a fair primary would be a condition for people not to defect. He added that those who support Jonathan and visit him are free to do so.

“For us, we are still very confident of victory in a free and fair election, whether Jonathan is recruited or not, we are confident. It’s Jonathan’s right to join our party and challenge. Whether the party will return and congratulate Jonathan is another ballgame. We are not afraid. We have our capacity. That the process be free, fair and equitable. That’s the only thing that can make this party great.

“What we expect is that our party respects the electoral law. It is their personal right of those who visit him to do so,” Faleke said.

In a conversation with The punchPolitical analyst and official Deji Adeyanju said integrating Jonathan was a good strategy for the North to return to power quickly since the former president cannot serve more than one term.

Adeyanju, however, said it was morally wrong for the APC to attempt to sell Jonathan to Nigerians after demonizing him for many years. He therefore advised the former president to ignore those courting him.

“It is a good strategy from the North to give power to the South for one term. It makes sense politically. However, I believe it is the Southeast’s turn in the interests of fairness. Constitutionally, Jonathan can always challenge. No law should have retroactive effect because it is contrary to the ethics of law

“I think Jonathan should ignore these people. It’s not worth the shot. What did he forget at the Villa? These are the people who campaigned against him. How will APC sell Jonathan to the Nigerians? He asked.

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