For those familiar with the ever busy theatre of Nigerian politics, the name Cyriacus Njoku needs no introduction. Twice has he challenged the eligibility of Goodluck Jonathan to stand for election into the highest political office in Nigeria, twice has he lost. Yet he remains undaunted.
In August 2010, Cyriacus Njoku, a freelance journalist and politician, attempted to stop the People’s Democratic Party from allowing Jonathan to participate in the PDP presidential primaries of January 2011. He urged an Abuja High Court to ask the PDP to respect its principle on zoning in line with Article 7.2(c) of the party’s 2009 constitution. However, the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Lawan Gummi, ruled against him. Jonathan contested the primaries, and the rest is history. But Njoku was not done.
Jonathan had barely settled down in office before Njoku challenged his eligibility to stand for re-election in 2015. He holds the view that the 1999 Constitution does not sanction the administration of oath of office on anyone as president thrice. According to him, Jonathan, who first took an oath of office as substantive President on May 6, 2010 and a second oath as President on May 29, 2011, is serving the second of two terms constitutionally allowed in Nigeria.
On March 1, 2013, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja ruled that the president has every right to vie for re-election if he wants to. Dissatisfied with the verdict, Njoku filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal seeking two reliefs including an “order setting aside the judgment of the High Court of March 1, 2013,” and an “order granting the reliefs sought by the Appellant in his Originating Summons filed on the 30th March, 2012.”
The tale took a bizarre turn when Njoku’s counsel, Mr Ugochukwu Osuagwu, fled the country on April 3, 2013 with members of his family, after taking refuge at German Embassy in Abuja for some time, because, according to him, he had been under constant threats of elimination by unknown persons. The German government has reportedly granted Mr Osuagwu asylum to escape his assailants.
It gets even more interesting. Cyriacus Njoku himself was arrested on Monday, April 8, on charges of rape and taken to Suleja prison where he’s being held under tight security. Reports say Njoku’s case only came to the open because he managed to smuggle a note out of the prison where he is held. No one has been allowed to see him – not even a lawyer. Prison authorities said that they have instructions not to allow anybody to see him.
Cyriacus Njoku is a PDP member with registration number 1622735.
Earlier, embattled Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi at a symposium in Ekiti, claimed that his strong and public condemnation of corruption in the petrol subsidy payments by the Federal Government led to his blacklisting by the President. Same week policemen arrested and detained four journalists from Leadership newspapers over an alleged presidential directive published by the paper.
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed described this as “a sign of the seemingly-inevitable descent into dictatorship by an increasingly-desperate presidency” while his Congress for Progressive Change counterpart Rotimi Fashakin, reacting to Njoku’s arrest, said Nigerians should rise against the renewed wave of onslaught by dictators against voices of dissent in the country.
Meanwhile Njoku’s case at the Court of Appeal has an interesting allure to it. The Supreme Court had in a previous decision (General Marwa vs. Murtala Nyako) concerning the tenure of some state governors, held that an elected official cannot take an oath for the same office more than twice by virtue of Sections 135 and 137 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
So who is afraid of Cyriacus Njoku?
– Ogunyemi Bukola is a writer, an editor and a social media strategist.