…Says he’s eminently qualified to contest 2023 elections
I have just read a story currently trending on social media credited to the leading Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana to the effect that former President Goodluck Jonathan is constitutionally barred from contesting in the 2023 Presidential election. Mr. Falana predicated his position on the provision of section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). I beg to disagree with Mr. Falana’s submission. It does not reflect the position of the law.
Beyond Mr. Falana’s submission, this issue has generated a lot of controversy in recent times, and in this short piece, I shall show that former President Jonathan is constitutionally qualified to contest in the 2023 Presidential election and that the provisions of section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution do not apply to him.
THE IMPORT OF SECTION 137 (3) OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION (AS AMENDED) AND ITS ORIGIN
Section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides thus:
‘A person who was sworn in as President 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’’.
In simple terms, section 137 (3) means that a person who had completed the term of another person, just like former President Jonathan completed the term of late President Yar’Adua, can be elected for only one term.
However, the key question is whether this constitutional provision, that is, section 137 (3), applies to former President Jonathan in respect of his constitutional right to contest the 2023 Presidential elections. This leads us to the determination of its origin. Section 137 (3) came about as a result of the 10th alteration to the 1999 Constitution which was assented to by President Buhari on the 7th day of June 2018. In effect, the commencement date or the date section 137 (3) enters into operation is from the 7th day of June 2018. Now, former President Jonathan completed the term of Late President Yar’Adua from May 5, 2010, to May 29, 2011, and served a single term from May 29, 2011, to May 29, 2015.
The question is whether a law or constitutional provision which came into effect on the 7th day of June 2018, after Jonathan had served the term of Late Yar’Adua and a single term in office, has retrospective application to an event that occurred before the coming into effect of the law. The apex court in Nigeria, which is the Supreme Court, has distinguished between two sets of laws. That is, the substantive or organic and the procedural laws. Whereas substantive laws deal with substantive rights and obligations of persons, on the other hand, procedural laws deal with issues of procedure such as rules of court. As to the application of these two sets of laws to practical situations, the Supreme Court has provided a guide in a plethora of cases. In the recent case of Nwora & Ors v. Nwabueze & Ors (2020) ALL FWLR (Pt. 1029) 58, 93, paras A-H, a case that deals with one of the constitutional alteration bills signed into law by President Buhari on the 7th day of June 2018, the Supreme Court, Per Nweze, JSC stated the law in these words:
‘’Both in England and Nigeria, superior courts have made it, abundantly, clear that the applicable law to a cause of action is the law prevailing at the time the cause of action arose, notwithstanding, that the law has been revoked at the time the action is being trial … In all, it is a fundamental principle of our law that rights of parties in an issue in the litigation are decided based on the substantive or organic law in force at the time of the act in question. This distinguishes them from adjectival or procedural law where the rule governing practice and procedure is the rule in force at the time of trial or the application is heard unless there is provision to the contrary…’’
In simple terms, constitutional provisions or laws relating to the right to contest elections such as section 137 (3) fall under the umbrella of substantive or organic law and as the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, the substantive or organic law applicable is the law that was in existence at the time the act in question occurred. The simple reason is that laws generally do not have retrospective effect, except otherwise stated. In other words, laws apply only to acts that occur after the enactment of the law and not those that occurred before the enactment. See SHABA & ORS v. KPOTUN & ORS (2021) LPELR-54766 (CA), 29-30. The actin question here is that former President Jonathan completed the term of Late President Yar’Adua before spending another term as President from 2011 to 2015.
Clearly, from the foregoing statement of the law, the relevant questions that come to mind are:
i. When did former President Jonathan complete the term of President Yar’Adua and served one term?
ii. Was the provision of Section 137(3) the law in existence at that time?
The answers to the foregoing questions are not farfetched. Former President Jonathan completed the term of Late Yar’Adua from May 10, 2010, to May 29, 2011, and served one term from May 29, 2011, to May 29, 2015. Then, the answer to the second question is simple. Section 137 (3) was not in existence or operation from May 10, 2010, to May 29, 2015, when the act in question occurred; hence it is not applicable.
Based on the foregoing, I submit most humbly that the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana was wrong to contend that former President Jonathan is not qualified to contest the 2023 Presidential election based on section 137 (3) which came into effect on the 7th day of July 2018. Section 137 (3) does not apply to former President Jonathan and he is constitutionally qualified to contest the 2023 Presidential election if he wishes to aspire.
Eric K. Omare, Esq is the Principal Partner in the law firm of E. K. Omare & Co, based in Warri, Delta State, and can be reached via [email protected]
Gov. Uzodimma’s Adviser Resigns, Demands N77m Office-Running Cost Refund
Batos Nwadike, a former presidential candidate and Special Adviser to Imo state, on Political matters, has tendered his resignation letter.
In the letter he addressed to Governor Hope Uzodiinma, Nwadike asked the governor to refund him the sum of N77,200,000, he spent to run his office.
Nwadike said that the governor’s administration was undemocratic and that he was not given access to discharge his duties.
“It is with a mixture of nostalgia, pride, and regret that I write to formally inform you of my resignation as your Special Adviser on Political Matters.
“I am grateful to you for the great honour and privilege to have served the good people of Imo state in your administration.
” I am proud of the accomplishments of my office in the last 2 (two) years and 6 (six) months, during which time I dedicated all my talents and energy towards the success of your administration.
“If you will recall, in April to May 2021, in the heat of the then insecurity crisis and with the grief of the passing away of my dear mother, Nneoma Theresa Nwadike, my office courageously embarked on and auspiciously concluded a tour of the 27 (twenty-seven) Local Government Areas of Imo State.
” I inaugurated, on your behalf and government of Imo state, Shared Prosperity Ambassadors in each Local Government Area; emboldened Imo people against the marauding horde and delivered your message of hope, prosperity, peace and equanimity. Soon after, in a memo, i proposed the “Imo Prays” event to your Excellency and I was delighted that your Excellency took the initiative and convened the event in collaboration with some religious leaders.
“I am equally proud to have conceived your government’s slogan of ‘Shared Prosperity’ which is widely embraced by all your supporters and now synonymous with your government.
“I had advised you even in the days preceding your election as Governor that Imo people deserve and will only be enamored by bold, ambitious and visionary legacy projects such as the Owerri/ Okigwe Road and Owerri/ Orlu Road. I am glad that your audacious ongoing reconstruction of those roads tallies directly with that advice.
“My office has constantly been the first to respond to breaking news pertaining to your government. Since my appointment, I have consistently used my intellectual acumen to counter the attacks on your government and advanced unimpeachable arguments on your behalf which have been widely acclaimed even by your opponents. Your political opponents have been my political opponents and your allies have been my allies.
“This is not to say that I am not disappointed in your failure to run an inclusive government outside your chosen insular inner circle. Your undemocratic and opaque leadership style has caused me no small unrest. I have been appalled not merely for my political interest but on account of common decency.
“I was repeatedly left in the dark and denied access to power in a government and vision I played an unwavering and consistent leading role in birthing from 2001 to 2020. During this period, I never changed, disbelieved, vacillated or cross-carpeted.
“As your political adviser, I was not afforded the respect of my office or reimbursed my legitimate expenses such as Imprest of my office from inauguration till date. Your Excellency, for 28 (twenty-eight) months, I spent the sum of N2,400,000 (Two Million Four Hundred Thousand Naira) monthly from my own pocket in running the office which you appointed and inaugurated me into.
“These expenses were made on account of payment of staff salary, logistics, feeding, media, printing, travel, events, meetings and several other sub-heads of payment. Furthermore, I spent the sum of N10,000,000 to furnish the government residence in Commissioners Quarters which I was allocated. This is a total amount of N77,200,000 (Seventy Seven Million Two Hundred Thousand Naira). I humbly use this medium to once again request your Excellency to instruct that these expenses be reimbursed to me.
“Far- disappointing is your bewildering fervent embrace and elevation of hardened opponents of the vision, high and above honest and dedicated allies. This is a brazen crass aberration of politics and power. Despite the challenges, I soldiered on without malice, bearing the constant slights and carrying my cross with the hope that it shall be well.
“However, like the holy book says ‘there is a time for everything’. I believe the time has come for my departure from your administration. This is by no means the end to the over 20 (twenty) years of our political association. I still remember with nostalgia our long ago regular extensive discussions on the struggle for Igbo presidency which culminated in your delivering Ozuruigbo’s 17th keynote lecture in 2016 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. As the adage goes, the rest is history.
“In parting, I must thank my wife Lolo Edith Nwadike and my children – Ozioma Nwadike Esq; Chisom Nwadike Esq; Queen Nwadike; and Chidinma Nwadike for supporting me and your administration with endless prayers in the course of my service. I am also grateful to my extended family, my staff and my political associates especially Ozuruigbo followers worldwide, who greatly assisted me in shouldering the demands of my office and encouraged my political trajectory for around about thirty-five years and still counting.
“Once again, I thank you Governor Uzodinma for the opportunity. While I crave your kind understanding, I offer my prayers and best wishes for your success.”
PDP Threatens To Expose Obasanjo, Gives Him 48hrs To Clarify Comments On Atiku
Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) has threatened to expose the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and tell the whole world and Nigerians who he is if he failed to retract his comments on its Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar in 48 hours.
Senator Walid Jibrin, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) said this while speaking to journalists in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.
The media was awash on Monday with the news where former President, Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted to have said that he made a mistake selecting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as his Vice President in 1999.
However, Jibrin while responding to Obasanjo, said “the party will be left with no option but to expose Obasanjo and tell Nigerians who he is in reality.”
He explained that “the PDP has high regards and respect for former President Obasanjo, but it will be very disappointing if the statement credited to him and carried in virtually all the national dailies is true.
“The statement which was among others that he, Obasanjo, made a mistake of appointing the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku as his running mate was unfortunate.
“In the present circumstance, I wish to appeal to former President Obasanjo to come out openly to repeat what he has said. Whether or not he was misquoted or meant what was credited to him.
“Although he has not debunked what was reported, one can assume that what was quoted to have been said by him is correct, but if he fails to openly come out and say which is correct in 48 hours, you will hear the bombardment and I will have no option but to break the egg and tell the whole world and Nigerians who is Obasanjo.
“There is no doubt Obasanjo may still be angry with Atiku even after helping him to succeed but perhaps for truncating his third term agenda, in any case, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku is our presidential candidate and I can tell you for sure that he will be the President in 2023 In shaa Allah.
“A high-powered reconciliatory committee would be constituted to meet Governor Nyesom Wike and appeal to him.
“Governor Wike is a great party man who fought for the party, when the committee is constituted, in which we will also bring other contestants together, we will go and meet with Governor Wike and appeal to him even if it means kneeling down to beg him.
“It is our belief that in any contest, there will always be a winner and a loser and we must take whatever comes our way as the will of God who gives power to whatever he wishes at the time he wishes.
“Atiku is a great man, a man of honor and integrity who will lead Nigeria to greatness, we will bring our head down infact very low, and respect every Nigeria as a party and that is why we are calling on party members to be united to. enaure that we win the next election. We must unite among ourselves and avoid speaking against ourselves in a manner that portrays the party in a bad light.
“We lost Ekiti election because there was no unity among party members but we have learnt our lessons, that is why prominent persons have been appointed to handle the Osun election and I can tell you that Senator Ademola Adeleke will be the next governor of Osun State.
“The PDP is kicking very well and we will rule Nigeria again and do better. We will do all within our powers to ensure victory for Atiku and Okowa come 2023 Presidential elections.”
2023: We Have Registered 2 Million Members In Borno State – NNPP
The New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), claims it has registered 2 million members in Borno State.
This was disclosed by its Borno Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Mustafa in an interview with NAN on Sunday.
He added that the party also has structures right from the wards to the state level to mobilize the electorate.
The state chairman said: “We have fielded candidates in all elective positions in Borno and have structures from the wards to the state level, mobilizing the electorate.
“Apart from our presidential candidate who is Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, we have a governorship candidate, three senatorial candidates, 10 House of Representatives candidates and 28 House of Assembly candidates to vote for massively in Borno.
“We are set to surprise others with our strength of over two million members and supporters.
“We are looking towards 2023 elections with full confidence and hope to win by the grace of God,”
He also added that the PVC registration is a tedious process, but urged eligible voters that are now more enlightened to take the pain to go and register so that they can actively participate in electing leaders of their choice.
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