Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and human rights activist, Olisa Agbakoba, has said that former President Gooodluck Jonathan can contest for presidency in 2023.
The legal practitioner relied on the non-existence of the Section 137 (3) of the Constitution at the time Jonathan was ruling the country.
Agbakoba, in a statement on Wednesday, emphasized that the law cannot be backdated, adding that the section doesn’t apply to the case of the former president.
A lot of criticisms have trailed recent rumours of the former president joining the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest for presidency in the forthcoming general elections.
However, some people moved that the rumoured attempt was at variance with the section 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The section resolves that a Vice President who completes the tenure of a President who dies in office. Such a Vice President, if he decides to run for the Office of President, will be eligible for one term of 4 years only, even though, ordinarily, he will be entitled to two terms of 8 years.
However, the legal expert said that such a provision should not be taken as having a connection with the former president’s re-election bid.
He wrote: “The eligibility of Former President Goodluck Jonathan to run for the office of President has become a vexed issue. In reviewing whether he is eligible to run, I will consider strictly the legal issues. The moral and ethical questions are not for me to consider.
“The question of Jonathan’s eligibility is determined by section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The purpose of Section 137(3) of the Constitution is to resolve the dilemma of a Vice President who completes the tenure of a President who dies in office. Such a Vice President if he decides to run for the Office of President will be eligible for one term of 4 years only. Even though ordinarily he will be entitled to two terms of 8 years.
“The logic behind it is that if the Vice President fills the Presidents void and runs for two terms, he is most likely to exceed the constitutionally prescribed maximum tenure of 8 years.
But the question is whether Section 137 (3) of the Constitution applies to Former President Goodluck Jonathan. I don’t think it applies to him because at the time Former President Goodluck Jonathan was President, Section 137 (3) of the Constitution was not in existence and there is a rule that you cannot backdate laws. Former President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible to run for the office of President”, he stated.
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