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ZONING: FRESH SUIT FILED AGAINST JONATHAN, PDP

By NBF News
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A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Cyriacus Njoku has asked an Abuja High Court in Maitama to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from vying for the office of the President in 2011 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) until 2015 unless its constitution is amended by a special convention of members to delete the zoning provision contained there-in.

In an originating summons filed at the court by his lawyer, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, Njoku wants the court to declare that the North is entitled to bear the presidential ticket of the PDP for two consecutive terms respectively from 2007 to 2015.

Njoku in the suit, which joins the National Chairman of the PDP, President Jonathan and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants, is also praying the court to declare that INEC cannot guarantee a free and fair election since its chairman was appointed by the President Jonathan, who is also participating in the 2011 election to be conducted by INEC.

Besides, averring that the President Jonathan's presidential aspiration in 2011 contravenes Article 7.2 (c) of the PDP 2009 constitution (as amended), for the zoning of elective offices in the party, the aggrieved member is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining PDP and INEC from fielding and admitting any candidate from the southern part of the country for the PDP presidential primaries.

But the President's lawyer, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN) and PDP Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke in their counter affidavits, have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit. While Izinyon dismissing the plaintiff as a busy body, Oke described him as a non-member of the party since he has not paid his membership dues for the past two years, and therefore lacks the locus standi to sue on the matter.

He further argued that shutting out an aspirant from an elective position on the basis of tribe, gender or religion is unconstitutional as it amounts to an infringement on his fundamental human rights. He added that the party at no time zoned the presidency to any part of the country as attested to by the number of aspirants that contested for the office from the various parts of the country in 1999 and 2007.

But the PDP Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke had dismissed the suit as 'misleading, gold-digging, and frivolous'. He added that the aspirant lacks the locus to institute the case as he is neither a member of the party nor its presidential aspirant.

An earlier suit instituted by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant Alhaji Sani Aminu Dutsinma challenging the decision of the party to allow Jonathan to contest for presidency despite the zoning policy is before the same court.

Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi has slated both suits for hearing and judgment respectively on Wednesday December 1st, 2010.