The Committee of Concerned Northern Professionals, Politicians, Academics and Businessmen (CCNPPAB) has resolved to join in the suit challenging the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 Presidency.
Arising from a meeting in Abuja yesterday, the committee in a communiqué jointly signed and issued by Dr Junaid Muhammad and Professor Awwal Yadudu said their decision to join in the suit was necessitated by public interest that is at stake.
The professionals said they would apply to join a suit currently before an Abuja High Court challenging Jonathan’s propriety to contest for the 2015 presidential election.
The suit which was instituted by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Cyriacus Njoku is asking the Court to stop Jonathan from contesting the presidential election in 2015 on the grounds that he was already in his second term in office.
The suit came in the wake of a declaration by President Jonathan in the first week of March 2012 that he is serving his first term in office.
But the president in a preliminary objection to the suit argues that he is serving his first four year term in office as president of Nigeria as provided for in the 1999 constitution.
Against this background, the Northern professionals while expressing their resolve to join in the suit expressed worry at the president’s tactics of canvassing his position on the issue through the media instead of the proper forum which is the courts.
To this end, the professionals said, “the issue of whether the president is into his first or second term in office is a serious and weighty constitutional issue which only the courts can determine.”
They warned the president not to intimidate the courts with preemptive and bombastic pronouncements on the issue. Adding that, “instead, he should allow the due process of the law to prevail.”
The professionals noted that this is not the first attempt by the president to seek elongation of his tenure as previous attempts failed recalling that” In an apparent failure of this effort, it has become clear that the President, who along with his late predecessor, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua served a full four-year term between 2007 – 2011 and currently serving a second term seems now clearly bent on finding a way to serving a third term of office.”
The Committee argued that the current constitution is very clear in the assertion that whichever President serves two terms in office is not eligible for another term of office. Adding, “a first impression one gets from the reading of the constitution is that for the purposes of tenure, qualification and disqualification, the President and the Vice President are considered as one. Based on this President Jonathan will be considered in law to have served his first term between 2007 – 2011.”
The Concerned Northerners advised that based on this, and the fact that there are other arguments on oath-taking, which the constitution did not allow, Nigerians have to come to grips with the fact that they are confronted by serious and weighty constitutional issues which consequences impinge on the overall well-being of the republic.
To this end, the Concerned Northerners said they have taken upon themselves “the duty of arousing civil society groups and the general public to wake up to this relentless attempt to tenure elongation.”