A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said yesterday that former President Goodluck Jonathan cannot contest in the 2023 presidential election, citing constitutional provisions barring the ex-president from seeking re-election.
The senior advocate based the reason on the newly signed law in 2018 that barred anyone to spend more than 8 years in office, a law that was not effective in 2015 when Jonathan contested against Buhari.
He recalled that Mr Jonathan became the President of Nigeria in 2010 following the sudden death of President Umaru Yar’adua, Yaradua and later contested and won the 2011 presidential election.
Mr Jonathan spent five years in office as President which would make it nine years in office if he contests and wins again, Mr Falana said.
“Dr. Jonathan is disqualified from contesting the 2023 presidential election. The reason is that if he wins the election he will spend an additional term of four years.
“It means that he would spend a cumulative period of nine years as President of Nigeria in utter breach of Section 137 of the Constitution which provides for a maximum two terms of eight years,” Mr Falana said.
The senior lawyer also said that by virtue of section 137 (3) of the Nigerian constitution, Mr Jonathan cannot seek re-election to the office of the president having completed the tenure of the late President Yar’adua and sworn in again for a full four-year term in 2011 upon winning the presidential election in his own name.
“A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as President shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term,” the section 137(3) of the constitution cited by Mr Falana reads.
The National Assembly had introduced the constitutional provision via the Fourth Alteration No 16 Act 2017 which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law on June 4, 2018.
Mr Falana faulted the argument that the constitutional provision signed into law in 2018 cannot retroactively apply to Mr Jonathan who had left office after his failed reelection bid in 2015.