The Committee of Concerned Northern Professionals, Politicians, Academics and Businessmen, CCNPPAB says the issue of whether President Goodluck Jonathan is into his first or second term in office is a serious and weighty constitutional issue that only the courts can determine. To this end, the Committee has advised the President not to intimidate the courts with preemptive and bombastic pronouncements on the issue. Instead, he should allow the due process of the law to prevail.
In a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting their of committee on Nigerian constitutional system, the Concerned Northerners expressed worry about the President canvassing his position on the issue through the media, leaving the proper forum, which is the court of law. The Committee noted with dismay that rather than paying attention to the job for which he was elected less than a year ago, the President has preoccupied himself with schemes of tenure elongation.
The meeting which was co-chaired by both the convener, Dr. Junaid Muhammed and the Committee Chairman on Constitutional Amendment, Professor Awwal Yadudu recalled the fruitless, but persistent efforts by the Presidency to use the Justice Belgore Committee the government set up to introduce a Seven-Year Single Term, which the President would himself test-run after his current term.
In an apparent failure of this effort, it has become clear that the President, who along with his late predecessor, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua served a full four-year term between 2007 – 2011 and currently serving a second term seems now clearly bent on finding a way to serving a third term of office.
In recalling that this was not the first time that a Nigerian leader would seek a tenure elongation, the last time being the third term aspiration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which was resoundingly defeated and thrown out by Nigerians,” this single-minded search for Jonathan’s tenure elongation will be fought and defeated using all constitutional means available,” said the communique.
To this end, the Concerned Northerners said in statement signed by Mohammed and Yadudu that they have taken upon themselves “the duty of arousing civil society groups and the general public to wake up to this relentless attempt to tenure elongation.”
The Committee stated that the current constitution is very clear in the assertion that whichever President serves two terms in office is not eligible for another term of office. It explained that a first impression one gets from the reading of the constitution is that for the purposes of tenure, qualification and disqualification, the President and the Vice President are considered as one. “Based on this,” said the statement, “President Jonathan will be considered in law to have served his first term between 2007 – 2011.”
Finally, the Concerned Northerners advised that based on this, and the fact that there are other arguments on oath-taking, which the constitution did not allow, Nigerians have to come to grips with the fact that they are confronted by serious and weighty constitutional issues which consequences impinge on the overall well-being of the Republic.
In the light of the public interest at stake in the matter in court, the Committee said it has resolved to apply to join the suit to be a part of the process.
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