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Jonathan: Re-contesting’ll be illegal, says Falana

By Olusegun Olanrewaju
Prominent human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says former President Goodluck Jonathan cannot run again for the presidency in 2023.

Jonathan has yet to declare his interest in the presidency, but there had been speculations that he may defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest in the 2023 presidential election.

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Several support groups are also rooting for him to run for the election.

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Last Thursday, a youth group under the aegis of the Nigerian Young Professionals in Diaspora (NYPD) gave the former president a week’s ultimatum to declare his presidential bid, saying Jonathan would bring peace and stability to the country if elected.
Meanwhile, Jonathan, last Friday, said he could not say if he would be declaring for the presidency.
But commenting, Falana argued that Section 137(3) of the constitution disqualifies Jonathan from contesting for the office of the president.

According to him, “It has been confirmed that former President Goodluck Jonathan has decided to join the All Progressives Congress (APC), to contest the 2023 presidential election.”

“However, the former president is disqualified from contesting the said election by 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, which provides as follows: ‘A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as president shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term’.

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“Some people have said that the amendment is not retrospective and, therefore, cannot apply to Dr. Jonathan. Assuming without conceding that the amendment is not retrospective, it is submitted that under the current constitution, a president or governor cannot spend more than two terms of eight years. In other words, the constitution will not allow anyone to be in office for more than a cumulative period of eight years.”

Falana further submitted, “It is not in dispute that Dr. Jonathan became the President of Nigeria in 2010 following the sudden death of President Umaru Yar’adua. He later contested and won the 2011 presidential election. Having spent five years in office as president, Dr. Jonathan is disqualified from contesting the 2023 presidential election.

“The reason is that if he wins the election, he will spend an additional term of four years. It means that he would spend a cumulative period of nine years as president of Nigeria, in utter breach of Section 137 of the constitution which provides for a maximum two terms of eight years.”

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