The ripples generated by President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election campaign posters in strategic locations of the FCT has taken a legal dimension as he is to face contempt charges. The posters were first seen in the Federal Capital Territory on January 1, 2013.
Although Jonathan’s aides have frantically tried to disown the posters, the plaintiff in a pending suit, which is challenging Jonathan’s eligibility to contest the 2015 presidential election, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, and his lawyer, Mr. Ugochukwu Osuagwu, have concluded plans to file contempt charges against the President over this recent development.
Osuagwu said that the plaintiff was concerned with the implications of Jonathan’s campaign posters on the pending suit.
He said, “My client has expressed concerns about what is going on. Despite the fact that the court has not given judgment, the 1st defendant (Jonathan), directly or indirectly, is taking an action that prejudices the case.
“It is clear that such an action in law is contempt ex-facie justicea because the court has not given judgment. Judgment was reserved and he is taking an action that prejudices the case.
“We are talking about respect for the rule of law and the plaintiff cannot take the laws into his hands, so the only option left for the plaintiff is to make an application to the court for contempt and we are already looking at that option.
“The action taken by the first defendant’s foot soldiers is capable of bringing about a breakdown of law and order in the society.
“The court has not ruled on the eligibility of the President to run in 2015. This is bad for the judiciary.”
The lawyer while acknowledging the immunity enjoyed by the President and despite his denial of master-minding the pasting of the posters, insists the contempt charge cannot be blocked by immunity.
He said, “The matter in court is election-related. It is to determine tenure. Jonathan’s lawyer did not raise immunity during trial and can’t raise it in court again. Let the President deny in court that he knows nothing about the posters.”
However, Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, has laughed off the latest angle introduced to the saga as ‘absolute nonsense and sheer illiteracy.’
“We have made it clear many times that the President does not know anything about the posters. How can you accuse somebody of contempt of court for something he does not know anything about? Does the PDP chieftain know the meaning of contempt? This is absolute nonsense and sheer illiteracy” Abati fumed.