2023: Ozekhome Counters Falana, Says Jonathan Legally Qualified To Contest Presidency

2023: Ozekhome Counters Falana, Says Jonathan Legally Qualified To Contest Presidency
Mike Ozekhome

Former President Goodluck Jonathan is “constitutionally” qualified to run for president in 2023, according to human rights lawyer Mike Ozekhome.

Between 2007 and 2010, Jonathan served as Vice President of Nigeria. Following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in May 2010, he was elected president and served until the end of the latter’s term.

He won the presidential election in 2011, but he lost his bid for a second term in 2015.

Senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, however, stated that the ex-president cannot run again for the position according to the constitution.

There have been rumors that Jonathan may defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to run for president in 2023, but he has not declare his interest in the position.

“The truth of the matter is that the antagonists of Jonathan running in 2022, in their strange line of argument, are mainly relying on the above section 137(3),” Ozekhome said.

“They have probably not adverted their minds to sections 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, and section 285(13) of the same fourth alteration to the 1999 constitution, as amended, which they are relying on.

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“More revealing is that these antagonists are probably not aware of an extant and subsisting court of appeal decision where Jonathan was frontallly confronted and challenged before the 2015 presidential election, on the same ground of being ineligible to contest the said 2015 election, having allegedly been elected for two previous terms of office.

“The section 137(3) being relied upon by the antagonists was signed into law in 2018, three years after Jonathan had left office. Can he be caught in its web retrospectively?

“It is clear that those deliberately misinterpreting the clear position of the law may be baying for Jonathan’s blood, possibly as a potential candidate who may subvert the chances of their preferred candidates.

“I do not view issues from such a narrow ad homine prism and blurred binoculars. It will be grossly unfair, unconstitutional, unconscionable and inequitable to deny Jonathan of the right to contest the 2023 presidential election when our extant laws and appellate court decisions permit him to.

“The question of whether Jonathan really needs to subject his glittering and internationally acclaimed reputation and credentials to the muddy waters of a fresh competition with persons, some of whom were his personal appointees as president, is another matter altogether.

“Only him, and not the present state of the laws in Nigeria, can answer that question and decide his own fate. But, as regards his eligibility to contest, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is pre-eminently constitutionally, morally and legally qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election.”