By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — A group of Northerners under the aegis, Concerned Northerners, yesterday, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to allow for due process of the law to prevail in the court in the ongoing tenure elongation suit.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, the group which comprises Northern professionals, politicians, academics and businessmen, also told President Jonathan to pay attention to the job for which he was elected to do less than a year ago, rather than preoccupy himself with schemes of tenure elongation.
The Northerners, who vowed to join in the suit against tenure elongation, however, expressed worry that the President was canvassing his position on the issue through the media, leaving the proper forum, which is the court of law.
In a communiqué at the end of a meeting on Nigerian constitutional system, the Northerners stressed that the issue of whether President Goodluck Jonathan was into his first or second term in office was a serious and weighty constitutional issue that only the courts can determine, just as they advised the President not to intimidate the courts with preemptive and bombastic pronouncements on the issue.
The meeting which was co-chaired by the convener, Dr. Junaid Muhammed and the Committee Chairman on Constitution Amendment, Prof. Awwal Yadudu, recalled the fruitless, but persistent efforts by the Presidency to use the Justice Belgore Committee the government set up to introduce a seven-year single term, which the President would himself test-run after his current term.
The statement read in part: “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 2007and 2011 and currently serving a second term seems now clearly bent on finding a way to serving a third term of office.
“In recalling that this was not the first time that a Nigerian leader would seek a tenure elongation, the last time being the third term aspiration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which was resoundingly defeated and thrown out by Nigerians, this single-minded search for Jonathan’s tenure elongation will be fought and defeated using all constitutional means available.
“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.
“The Committee stated 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. It explained that 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 and 2011.”
‘’Finally, 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.
‘’In the light of the public interest at stake in the matter in court, the Committee said it has resolved to apply to join the suit to be a part of the process.”