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2011: PRO-ZONING GROUP RETURNS TO COURT TO STOP JONATHAN

By NBF News
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The plot to stop President Goodluck Jonathan fromemerging as presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has thickened in Abuja. Three chieftains of the party have approached an Abuja High Court, praying it to grant an order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting Jonathan as the party's presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential election.

In addition, the plaintiffs, Ambassodor Yahaya Kwande, Dubem Onyia and erstwhile Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, who are active members of the party are asking the court to restrain PDP and its National Chairman, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, from presenting President Jonathan as their candidate for the said election.

Meanwhile, the court has set aside January 4, 2011 to hear the preliminary objection brought before it by defendants in the suit.

In their amended originating summons, the plaintiffs set out 10 issues for determination by the court as well as six reliefs to be granted in their favour if the questions were answered in the affirmative.

The plaintiff's legal team, made up of four senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN), included Rickey Tarfa, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Professor Ignatius Akaayar Ayua, Oluyele Delano, Abiodun Owonikoko, John Olusegun Odubela, Yakubu Maikyau and Olusegun Jalaawo.

They contended that whether having regard to the provisions of sections 14 (3) and 233 (2) (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, section 87 (9) and (10) of the Electoral Act 2010 and articles 2 and 7.2(c) of the constitution of the PDP, 2009 (as amended) and the resolution of the national caucus of the party reached on December 2, 2002, Jonathan, not being from the northern geographical zone could contest for the 20011 presidential election on the platform of the party.

The court was further called upon by the plaintiffs to determine whether, given the said statutory provisions, the PDP could allow any other candidate to be nominated and presented as its candidate for the 2011 presidential elections other than a candidate from the northern geographical zone as stipulated in the said national caucus of the party's resolution reached on December 2, 2002.

Furthermore, the court was to decide whether, going by the above provisions of the statutes, INEC was not bound to reject any candidate presented by the PDP in contravention of and total disregard to the provisions of article 7.2 (c) of the party's constitution.

The Plaintiffs said sections 13 and 15(a), (c) and (f) of the 3rd schedule of the country's constitution of 1999, section 86(1) and (2) and 67(9) and (10) of the Electoral Act, 2010, INEC is bound to compel PDP to comply with the provisions of Article 7.2 (c) of its constitution, 2009 (as amended0.

They wanted the court to declare that by virtue of the provisions of sections 14(3) and 223(2) (b) of the 1999 constitution, section 87(9) and (10) of the Electoral Act, 2010 and articles 2 and 7.2 (c) of the PDP's constitution and the resolution of the national caucus of the party reached on December 2, 2002, President Jonathan, not being a northerner, could not contest the 2011 presidential election on PDP's platform.

They equally wanted the court to declare that PDP was bound to allow a candidate from the northern geo-political zone to contest for presidency in 2011 presidential election so as to complete the zone's eight-year slot in producing candidate for the election into the office of the president, adding that the National Working Committee of the party could not, by its decision, override the resolution of the national caucus which was a superior organ to it, in the party's hierarchy.

'The resolution of the National Caucus of the 1st Defendant of December 2, 2002, the 4th Defendant is bound to reject any candidate presented by the 1st Defendant including the 3rd Defendant in contravention of and total disregard to the provision of Article 7.2© of the 1st Defendant's] Constitution', the Plaintiffs wants the court to declare.

In a 35-paragraph affidavit in support of the Plaintiff's amended charge and deposed to by one of the Plaintiffs, Hon Dubem Onyia, the Plaintiffs averred that late President Yar'adua, from the North West geopolitical zone became president in May 2007 on the platform of the PDP, pursuant to binding zoning arrangement of the PDP which is consistent with the federal character policy entrenched in sections 14(3) and 223(2)(b) of the constitution.

According to the affidavit, late Yar'adua who's death led to Jonathan's emergence as President was entitled to eight years tenure of two terms of four years each, which was the Northern slot before his demise in May 6, 2010, pointing also that the second four year term for a northern candidate is by virtue of the 2002 resolution of the party and the federal character principle entrenched in the constitution.

It further averred that any attempt by President Jonathan to contest the position of the president under the platform of the PDP will make nonsense of the federal character principle, noting also that the president is using the power of incumbency to subdue and influence party leaders to upturn the resolution reached by the party on December 2, 2002.

President Jonathan's interest to contest, they note will disrupt the zoning agreement of the party since he has all the state's resources at his beck and call to impede the chances of northern candidates, saying that the interest of the Plaintiffs is seeing that the party uphold the provisions of the constitution