The Supreme Court Justices yesterday said they will determine President Jonathan’s eligibility or otherwise to contest the 2015 presidential election before the closure of submission of political parties’ nominees to INEC by 18th December.
The apex court took this position at the hearing of an appeal motion filed before it by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, challenging the eligibility of the president to contest another term of office as the president of the federal republic of Nigeria. After calculating the days left before closing of nomination, the Supreme Court’s panel of five Justices led by Justice Tanko Mohammed gave the Respondents five days to file their briefs and two days to Ardo’s lawyers to respond on points of law, and then fixed December 16 for definite hearing on the suit.
Meanwhile, the President, through his lawyer Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, told the court that he has already supplied plethora of legal authorities backing his re-election bid. He argued that Ardo has no strong case against him, insisting that he is permitted by the 1999 constitution to go for a second tenure in office.
Also, whereas the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, through its lawyer Mr. C. I. Paul, applied for a short time to file its response to the suit, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, told the apex court that it would remain neutral and abide by whatever decision the court will take on the contentious issue.
Ardo, a three times Adamawa state gubernatorial aspirant, through his lawyer Dr. A. Amuda Kannike, is praying the Supreme Court not only to set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal which dismissed his application to join as a party in the suit that was filed against Jonathan by another member of the PDP, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, but also to try the substantive suit in which he is praying the apex court to declare President Jonathan ineligible to contest another term of office.
He contended that the outcome of that case will personally affect him since the PDP had already adopted the 1st Respondent, Jonathan, as its sole candidate for the impending Presidential poll. Ardo had at the appellate court, insisted that he has garnered enough evidence with a view to proving that President Jonathan lacks the legal imprimatur to remain in office beyond 2015.