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Falana: Nigeria’s constitution disqualifies Jonathan from contesting presidency in 2023

Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says former President Goodluck Jonathan cannot run for president in 2023.

Although the former president is yet to declare his interest in the presidency, there have been speculations that he may defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest in the 2023 presidential election.

Several support groups have asked him to run for president.

Last Thursday, a youth group known as the Nigerian Young Professionals in Diaspora(NYPD) gave the former president a week’s ultimatum to declare his presidential bid.

The group had said Jonathan would bring peace and stability to the country when he becomes president.

But finally responding to the calls to declare, Jonathan, last Friday, said he could not say if he would be declaring for presidency.

Commenting on the development, Falana said section 137(3) of the constitution disqualifies Jonathan from contesting for the office of the president.

“It has been confirmed that former President Goodluck Jonathan has decided to join the All Progressives Congress, APC, to contest the 2023 presidential election,” Falana said.

“However, the former President is disqualified from contesting the said election by 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended which provides as follows: ‘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.

“Some people have said that the amendment is not retrospective and therefore cannot apply to Dr. Jonathan. Assuming without conceding that the amendment is not retrospective, it is submitted that under the current Constitution a President or Governor cannot spend more than 2 terms of 8 years. In other words, the Constitution will not allow anyone to be in office for more than a cumulative period of 8 years.

“It is not in dispute that Dr. Jonathan became the President of Nigeria in 2010 following the sudden death of President Umoru Yaradua. He later contested and won the 2011 presidential election. Having spent 5 years in office as President, 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 4 years. It means that he would spend a cumulative period of 9 years as President of Nigeria in utter breach of Section 137 of the Constitution which provides for a maximum two terms of 8 years


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