2023 poll: Eligibility of former President Goodluck Jonathan to contest

By Olisa Agbakoba, SAN

The eligibility of Former President Goodluck Jonathan to run for the office of President has become a vexed issue. In reviewing whether he is eligible to run, I will consider strictly the legal issues. The moral and ethical questions are not for me to consider.

The question of Jonathan’s eligibility is determined by section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The purpose of Section 137(3) of the Constitution is to resolve the dilemma of a Vice President who completes the tenure of a President who dies in office. Such a Vice President if he decides to run for the Office of President will be eligible for one term of 4 years only.

Even though ordinarily he will be entitled to two terms of 8 years. The logic behind it is that if the Vice President fills the Presidents void and runs for two terms, he is most likely to exceed the constitutionally prescribed maximum tenure of 8 years.

But the question is whether Section 137 (3) of the Constitution applies to Former President Goodluck Jonathan. I don’t think it applies to him because at the time Former President Goodluck Jonathan was President, Section 137 (3) of the Constitution was not in existence and there is a rule that you cannot backdate laws.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible to run for the office of President.

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