The declaration by an Abuja High Court last week that gave Jonathan the eligibility to run in the 2015 presidential elections has received knocks from the President of the Coalition of Concerned Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, who said that only the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to decide if Jonathan is eligible or not.
He also insisted that the said agreement signed by President Jonathan to serve for only a single term really exists.
A politician, Mr. Cyriakus Njoku, had approached the court seeking for an order restraining Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election because it would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribed a period of not more than eight years for occupants of the Office of the President.
However, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Abuja High Court had ruled that Jonathan, “is, therefore, currently serving his first tenure of office and if he so wishes, he is eligible to further seek his party’s ticket through the party’s primary election and to run for office in 2015.”
But Mohammed, who was a legislator in the Second Republic, was of the opinion that the court had overreached itself in even entertaining the suit brought by Njoku in the first place as it was outside its jurisdiction.
He said, “It is not the function of any high court to interpret any extant law. It is the duty of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to interpret any extant or existing law of the federation.
“The interpretation of the 1999 Constitution or any other constitution is rested and vested on the Supreme Court. That is why some of us from the north did not care to be joined in the suit because everybody knows that the Cyriakus Njoku has no locus standi in the case.
“It is also the Supreme Court that has the right to even interpret the Electoral Act, when there is the cause for that. Some of us are keeping quite because at the appointed time, the matter would be taken to the Supreme Court for interpretation and not what the Abuja High Court did last Friday.”
He went on to ask, “Who is Njoku, if not a front. What interest was he trying to protect, if not that he was sponsored to do what he has done.”
Commenting on the alleged one-term deal struck between Jonathan and some governors, Mohammed said he had seen the document and it was signed by Jonathan, some governors and two deputy governors before the 2011 elections.
He however declined to give further details on the agreement, since he was not a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
He issued a challenge to the leadership of the PDP to make necessary clarification on the alleged deal between President Jonathan and the 20 governors involved in the alleged deal, saying: “The governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has spoken.”
Aliyu had in a radio programme in Kaduna, some few weeks ago blown the whistle on the existence of the document, while the Presidency debunked the claim, daring anyone in possession of such an agreement to release it to the public.
But Mohammed said he had seen the original documents with trusted political confidantes whom he has known for upwards of 40 years.
He said:“The Political Adviser, Gulak has been denying that there was no deal. But he was not there at the time of the alleged deal. But the onus of proof is on the leadership of the PDP should speak on the allegation. PDP should deny or confirm the statement by the Niger State governor.
“I am persuaded to say that such an agreement exists and it was signed by some governors, and I think, two deputy governors at the time. I have sighted the document and I got to know this from people whom I have known from 40 to 50 years that the agreement exists.
“People are prepared to deny the existence of the paper because of our culture of double talk. We do not need a lower ranked aide of the President to deny it. As far as I am concerned, something of that magnitude should have been cleared by a very senior person at the highest possible level to clarify-someone at the Presidency. Dr. Doyin Okupe, is my friend and he did the same thing for Obasanjo until he was fired.”
The former lawmaker and political analyst also accused Jonathan of lacking the political will to reshuffle his cabinet because of the powerful forces lurking in his government.
“There are clearly many powerful forces that are stopping the President from reshuffling the cabinet because there are two women ministers who think they cannot be removed from their posts.
“The discourse on the 2015 election is premature but it was started by Jonathan. All we have had from 2011 to date was slogan. Promises were made and they have not been kept. The promises have been kept aside. You have to blame the President on early talk of 2015 and he is unleashing his attack dogs on the nation.
“Nobody would believe the tale that the President would not run in 2015. The man is behind it and his body language says a lot. The body language indicates that he would be running. They have started preparing the war chest for 2015. They are pulling money for election through deliberate, half-hearted implementation of annual budgets. They leave no room for anybody to trust them and I, for one, do not trust them,” Mohammed stated.
Responding to the claim of President Jonathan that it was too early to comment on the 2015 presidential election, Mohammed debunked it saying the President’s body language was enough grounds to start the discussion on the 2015 elections.
He made an analogy with former President Olusegun Obasanjo who though denied there was a third-term campaign, had his body language indicating his support for a third term