21st June, 2012
An Abuja High Court on Thursday ordered INEC to appear in court to enter its defence in a suit filed by a PDP chieftain Cyracus Njoku against the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Njoku, filed a suit on 20 March before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi praying the court to stop Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election.
Also mentioned in the suit are PDP Chairman Bamanga Tukur (second) and INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega (third defendant).
Njoku wanted the court to stop Jonathan on the ground that he was already in his second term in office.
He claimed that Jonathan was running a second term in office and could not be a candidate in 2015, adding also that “the President cannot swear to an Oath of Office thrice in the light of Section 137(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution”.
The applicant wanted the court to determine, “whether Section 135(2) of the Constitution which specifies a period of four years in office for the President is only available or applicable to a person elected on the basis of an actual election or includes one in which a person assumes the position of President by operation of law as in the case of Jonathan.”
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Oniyangi ordered that INEC should enter appearance, because the plaintiff (Njoku), named the commission as the third defendant in the suit.
Oniyangi also ordered that hearing notice be issued to the INEC Chairman Jega before July 23, to enable the commission enter defence.
Earlier, in a ruling he delivered, Oniyangi granted an application filed by the PDP counsel, Mr Victor Kwon for enlargement of time within which he could file a counter affidavit, challenging the suit.
Oniyangi, then adjourned the suit to Monday, July 23 for the hearing of a preliminary objection filed by Jonathan’s lawyer, Ade Okeanya-Inneh, challenging the suit.
Njoku, had initially told the court that he was exploring an option of settlement out of court. He had told the court that some concerned party chieftains, had approached him for an out of court settlement.
But on Wednesday, May 30, he told the court that all efforts at settling out of court had failed. Njoku then told the court that he was willing to go on with the matter.