President Goodluck Jonathan is to face contempt charges over the recent emergence of his re-election campaign posters on the streets of Abuja. The posters were first seen in the Federal Capital Territory on January 1, 2013.
Although Jonathan’s aides have disowned the posters, the plaintiff in a pending suit, which is challenging his eligibility to contest the 2015 presidential election, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, and his lawyer, Mr. Ugochukwu Osuagwu, have finalised plans to file contempt charges against the President over the development.
Osuagwu told SUNDAY PUNCH in a telephone interview that the plaintiff was concerned with the implications of Jonathan’s campaign posters on the pending suit.
He said, “My client has expressed concerns about what is going on. Despite the fact that the court has not given judgment, the 1st defendant (Jonathan), directly or indirectly, is taking an action that prejudices the case.
“It is clear that such an action in law is contempt ex-facie justicea because the court has not given judgment. Judgment was reserved and he is taking an action that prejudices the case.
“We are talking about respect for the rule of law and the plaintiff cannot take the laws into his hands, so the only option left for the plaintiff is to make an application to the court for contempt and we are already looking at that option.
“The action taken by the first defendant’s foot soldiers is capable of bringing about a breakdown of law and order in the society.
“The court has not ruled on the eligibility of the President to run in 2015. This is bad for the judiciary.”
The lawyer added that even though the President enjoys immunity and has denied knowledge of the posters, it may not protect him from the contempt charge.
He said, “The matter in court is election-related. It is to determine tenure. Jonathan’s lawyer did not raise immunity during trial and can’t raise it in court again. Let the President deny in court that he knows nothing about the posters.”