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December 17, 2014

Jonathan’s eligibility: S’Court dismisses PDP stalwart’s joinder appeal

Jonathan’s eligibility: S’Court dismisses PDP stalwart’s joinder appeal

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan greets supporters at a ceremony in Abuja on November 11, 2014. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan on November 11 declared his bid for re-election, vowing to finally defeat Boko Haram whose rise in strength during his first term has threatened the country’s sovereignty. The 56-year-old made the announcement to tens of thousands of supporters in the red, white and green of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at a carefully orchestrated ceremony including patriotic music, dancing, prayers and speeches. AFP PHOTO

ABUJA—The Supreme Court, yesterday, struck out an appeal lodged by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, seeking to be joined in the substantive suit to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from vying for a re-election next year.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo greet supporters at a ceremony in Abuja on November 11, 2014. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on November 11 declared his bid for re-election, vowing to finally defeat Boko Haram whose rise in strength during his first term has threatened the country's sovereignty. The 56-year-old made the announcement to tens of thousands of supporters in the red, white and green of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at a carefully orchestrated ceremony including patriotic music, dancing, prayers and speeches. AFP PHOTO

A seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, struck out the appeal.

Delivering the ruling yesterday, the CJN accused Ardo of inviting the Supreme Court to arrest a proceeding pending before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

He noted that the substantive suit challenging Jonathan’s eligibility is currently before the appellate court, stressing that Ardo lacked the locus-standi to move the apex court to either take over hearing on the matter or compel the appeal court to join him as an interested party in the pending appeal.

The CJN maintained that no law stopped the appellant, Ardo, from participating in the just concluded convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where President Jonathan was nominated as the presidential flag-bearer of the party for the impending general election.

“You are appealing against the ruling of the Court of Appeal that refused to join you. We cannot sit down here and step into the shoes of the Court of Appeal,” the CJN stated.

He held that the Supreme Court lacked the requisite powers to arrest and assume jurisdiction on an appeal pending before the court of appeal.

Therefore, the Supreme Court yesterday upheld the decision of the appellate court in refusing to join Ardo in the substantive appeal that was filed against Jonathan by a chieftain of the PDP in Abuja, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku.

“The matter does not require many people to be joined as parties. Njoku’s interest can be used as every other person’s interest in the matter.

“Nobody would have even prevented you from contesting, if really you are serious with your claims that you are interested.

“I cannot see the relevance of this appeal anymore, primary election has been concluded, you did not participate in the primary, even if you want to contest it, you cannot, because you did not participate in it.

“It is clear, you are delaying the substantive appeal. The decision of the Court of Appeal was correct”, the CJN added.

President Jonathan had through his lawyer Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, urged the apex court to dismiss the suit, even as he contended that he is legally qualified to contest in the 2015 general elections.

The President said he had already supplied before the Supreme Court, plethora of legal authorities backing his re-election bid.

He argued that Ardo had no strong case against him since the 1999 constitution, as amended, permits him to go for a second tenure in office.

Ardo had through his lawyer, Dr. A. Amuda Kannike, argued that President Jonathan lacked the legal imprimatur to remain in office beyond 2015.

He took the case to the Supreme Court following the refusal of a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court to allow him to join in Njoku’s suit challenging Jonathan’s eligibility.

He argued that the outcome of that case would affect him personally since the PDP had already adopted the 1st Respondent, Jonathan, as its sole candidate for the impending Presidential poll.