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Presidency: Nobody can stop me –Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has told an Abuja High Court that any attempt to stop him from contesting the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would amount to an infringement on his fundamental rights under the constitution.

He made the submission as the court has fixed Monday January 10 to deliver judgment in the suit filed by some aggrieved chieftains of the party seeking to stop him from contesting the presidential election on the grounds that the presidency has been zoned to the North.

This was the content of a preliminary objections filed by counsel to the president Jonathan, Chief Alex Izinyon [SAN] praying the court to strike out the suit brought by Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Hon. Dubem Onyia and Alhaji Lawal Kaita, all card-carrying and financial members of the ruling party.

In the suit, the PDP chieftains had asked the court to restrain PDP and its National Chairman, Chief Okwesileze Nwodo from presenting President Jonathan as their candidate for the April 2011 presidential election. They are also seeking an order of the court barring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting President Jonathan as PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential election.

But moving their objections, the defence counsel collectively attacked the competence of the action and urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety for lacking in merit. Specifically, Izinyon told the court that his client, like any other Nigerian, has the constitutional rights to contest as president by virtue of section 42 [1] of the 1999 constitution adding that anything to the contrary was an infringement on his right.
He urged the court to hold that the suit having been predicated upon Article 7.2 [c] of the party’s constitution is caught up by the principle of issues estopel as a competent court of coordinate jurisdiction had earlier delivered judgment on a similar suit.

In addition, he submitted that granting the request of the plaintiffs would create judicial anarchy and throw the court into disrepute. On his part, counsel to the PDP, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama [SAN] argued that the suit itself was an abuse of court as another court has already taken a decision on a similar suit.
Gadzama said the Plaintiffs lack the requisite legal standing to institute or sustain the action in law, noting also that there was no reasonable cause of action that lies against the party.

Gadzama, who described the plaintiffs’ suit as an abuse of court process said the issue of nominating or electing who should be a party’s presidential candidate is an intra-party matter for which the PDP has various administrative and legal mechanisms, which are yet to be exhausted by the Plaintiffs . He argued that the exhaustion of these administrative and legal mechanisms constitutes a condition precedent before legal action can be commenced.

“The action is premature, non-justiciable and this honourable court is functus officio having determined the same issue in an earlier suit (SUIT NO FCT/CV/2425/2010 (SANI AMINU DUTSINMA -V- PDP & ANOR). The action ought to have been commenced by a Writ of Summons,” the party stated.
A four-paragraph affidavit in support of the preliminary objection, averred that PDP’s Constitution stipulates that aggrieved members of the party must exhaust all its remedies as provided before resorting to litigation, adding that it is an offence punishable by disciplinary actions for its members to side-step these remedies and proceed to court.

Counsel to Nwodo and National Legal adviser to the party, Olushola Oke who submitted that as a sitting president, Jonathan has the constitutional right to contest for second term. He said stopping Jonathan from contesting the presidential election would be tantamount to disqualifying him from the race on account of zoning, which he argued, was not a ground for disqualification under section 137 of the constitution.


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Posted by on Jan 6 2011. Filed under Headlines, Presidency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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