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Lawyer faults Falana’s position on Jonathan, says he’s eminently qualified to contest 2023 elections



A human rights lawyer, Barr. Eric Omare, has faulted the stand of a colleague and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, over his comment stating that former President Goodluck Jonathan is constitutionally disqualified from contesting in the 2023 Presidential election.

Recall that it was reported how Jonathan is staging a return to Aso Rock after he was defeated as the sitting president on the platform of People’s Democratic Party of the attempt by the then All Progressives Congress’ candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015.

Eric K. Omare, who is the Principal Partner of E. K. Omare & Co, based in Warri, Delta State, said Falana was not correct with his interpretation of the constitution he quoted, claiming he didn’t reflect the position of the law.

According to him, the provisions of section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution do not apply to the former president.


“I have just read a story currently trending on the social media credited to leading Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana to the effect that former President Goodluck Jonathan is constitutionally barred from contesting in the 2023 Presidential election. Mr. Falana predicated his position on the provision of section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). I beg to disagree with Mr. Falana’s submission. It does not reflect the position of the law. Beyond Mr. Falana’s submission, this issue has generated a lot of controversy in recent times and by this short piece, I shall show that former President Jonathan is constitutionally qualified to contest in the 2023 Presidential election and that the provisions of section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution do not apply to him,” the lawyer wrote.

He analysed his defence below.


Section 137 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides thus:

‘A person who was sworn-in as President 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’’.

In simple terms, section 137 (3) means that a person who had completed the term of another person, just like former President Jonathan completed the term of late President Yar’Adua, can be elected for only one term.


However, the key question is whether this constitutional provision, that is, section 137 (3), applies to former President Jonathan in respect of his constitutional right to contest the 2023 Presidential elections. This leads us to the determination of its origin. Section 137 (3) came about as a result of the 10th alteration to the 1999 Constitution which was assented to by President Buhari on the 7th day of June, 2018. In effect, the commencement date or the date section 137 (3) enters into operation is from the 7th day of June, 2018. Now, former President Jonathan completed the term of Late President Yar’Adua from May 5, 2010 to May 29, 2011 and served a single term from May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2015.

The question is whether a law or constitutional provision which came into effect on the 7th day of June, 2018, after Jonathan had served the term of Late Yar’Adua and a single term in office, has retrospective application to an event that occurred before the coming into effect of the law. Basically, the apex court in Nigeria, which is the Supreme Court, has distinguished between two sets of laws. That is, the substantive or organic and the procedural laws. Whereas substantive laws deal with substantive rights and obligations of persons, on the other hand, procedural laws deal with issues of procedure such as rules of court. As to the application of these two sets of laws to practical situations, the Supreme Court has provided guide in a plethora of cases. In the recent case of Nwora & ors v. Nwabueze & Ors (2020) ALL FWLR (Pt. 1029) 58, 93, paras A-H, a case which deals with one of the constitutional alteration bills signed into law by President Buhari on the 7th day of June, 2018, the Supreme Court, Per Nweze, JSC stated the law in these words:

“Both in England and in Nigeria, superior courts have made it, abundantly, clear that the applicable law to a cause of action is the law prevailing at the time the cause of action arose, notwithstanding, that the law has been revoked at the time the action is being trial … In all, it is a fundamental principle of our law that rights of parties in an issue in litigation are decided on the basis of the substantive or organic law in force at the time of the act in question. This distinguishes them from adjectival or procedural law where the rule governing practice and procedure is the rule in force at the time of trial or the application is heard, unless there is provision to the contrary…”

In simple terms, constitutional provisions or laws relating to the right to contest elections such as section 137 (3) fall under the umbrella of substantive or organic law and as the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, the substantive or organic law applicable is the law that was in existence at the time the act in question occurred. The simple reason is that laws generally do not have retrospective effect, except otherwise stated. In other words, laws apply only to acts that occur after the enactment of the law and not those that occurred before the enactment. See SHABA & ORS v. KPOTUN & ORS (2021) LPELR-54766 (CA), 29-30. The act in question here is that former President Jonathan completed the term of Late President Yar’Adua before spending another term as President from 2011 to 2015.

Clearly, from the foregoing statement of the law, the relevant questions that come to mind are:


i. When did former President Jonathan complete the term of President Yar’Adua and served one term?
ii. Was the provision of Section 137(3) the law in existence at that time?

The answers to the foregoing questions are not farfetched. Former President Jonathan completed the term of Late Yar’Adua from May 10, 2010 to May 29, 2011 and served one term from May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2015. Then, the answer to the second question is simple. Section 137 (3) was not in existence or operation at as May 10, 2010 to May 29, 2015 when the act in question occurred; hence it is not applicable.

Based on the foregoing, I submit most humbly that the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana was wrong to contend that former President Jonathan is not qualified to contest the 2023 Presidential election on the basis of section 137 (3) which came into effect on the 7th day of July, 2018. Section 137 (3) does not apply to former President Jonathan and he is constitutionally qualified to contest the 2023 Presidential election, if he wishes to aspire.

It is widely rumoured that the former president may be declaring his intention early May on the platform with which he was defeated as the sitting president back in 2015.

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My opponents are defeated – Fubara



The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, declared on Thursday that his battles were over as he had defeated his opponents, who are not sleeping with their two eyes open.

He said he had turned the tide against his opponents, noting that he was still in office about to mark his first anniversary, contrary to the plan by his detractors.

Fubara spoke on Thursday amid the ranging feud between him and his predecessor and estranged political godfather, Nyesom Wike.

Last October, Fubara survived an impeachment plot by members of the Rivers State House of Assembly loyal to Wike.


As of Wednesday, nine members of his cabinet loyal to Wike had tendered their resignation and exited.

Addressing the national and state leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council on Thursday at the Government House in Port Harcourt, Fubara said he appreciated their support and the assurance that they were with him but said, “there is nothing to call on you for because we have already defeated them.”

The IYC leadership was on a solidarity walk to the Government House in Port Harcourt, to celebrate the Isaac Adaka Boro Day.

The solidarity walk was part of activities to celebrate the heroic exploits of the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, 56 years after his death, which is observed on May 16, every year.

Boro, it will be recalled, formed the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, an armed militia with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group who declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966, and fought with federal forces for 12 days before they were defeated.

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After he was granted amnesty, he enlisted and was commissioned as a Major in the Nigerian Army, fought on the side of the Federal Government during the civil war but was killed under mysterious circumstances in active service in 1968 at Ogu (near Okrika) in Rivers State on May 9, 1968.

Speaking with the Ijaw youths, Fubara acknowledged the assurances of brotherly support from the council and urged the Ijaw Nation to key into the ongoing celebration of the liberation the state now enjoyed.

“I am happy that you’ve told me this morning that when I call on you, you will respond. But there is nothing to call on you for because we have already defeated them.

“By the special grace of God, what they thought that they would have done to us while we were celebrating our one year in office, they are the ones sleeping with their two eyes open. It shows that we have the Ijaw blood. And what is that blood: it is the blood of action; less talk, more action,” Fubara said.

Fubara noted that Boro genuinely stood for equity, justice, and fair play, and pursued his course to ensure liberation for the Ijaw people and their clans.


He described every genuine Rivers man as a liberator, adding that he was delighted to receive them on such auspicious day to re-enact the common purpose of liberation that they shared.

“Because he (Isaac Boro) stood for that unique thing, even after his death, we still celebrate him because he was a liberator.

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“Every Rivers man, it doesn’t matter whether you are Ijaw or upland, the most important thing is that every genuine Rivers man must be a liberator.

“And I’m happy that you have come here today. I have also received you because we have one common purpose: to liberate our dear state. We are not going back on that.”

The governor thanked the crowd for their assurances of being available to respond to his call and stand by him and appealed to Ijaw youths to conduct themselves peacefully as they celebrate Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day.


He stressed that it should be done in the same spirit that had enveloped the state now, celebrating victory over his political detractors.

In his speech, the National President of IYC, Mr Jonathan Lokpobiri, described the day as historic, because Ijaw people were meeting with their governor on Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day of Memorial.

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Senate moves against govs on LG autonomy



The Senate, yesterday, accused state governors of misappropriating funds allocated to local government councils in Nigeria. It claimed that the council chairmen were usually compelled to sign off cheques by governors, who in turn, allocate peanuts to them.

This is coming as the Senate called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately stop allocation of funds to caretaker committee-led local government areas.

“Local governments are dead in Nigeria. Governors misappropriate local governments’ funds. They force these local government chairmen to sign off cheques and they give them meagre amounts as running costs. There are some governors who are different and we thank them for doing that,” Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided during yesterday’s plenary said.

In the resolutions reached by the Senate, it urged President Tinubu to champion the cause of full autonomy for local governments.


“The challenges we face, including the persistent security threats, rural urban migration, decaying infrastructure, and widespread unemployment, demand bold action, and we believe that empowering local governments holds the key to unlocking a brighter future for all Nigerians.

“Convene a national dialogue involving governors, state legislators, local government officials, civil society organisations, and community leaders to discuss the roadmap towards achieving full local government autonomy.

“Use his leadership and influence to persuade the federating units and all critical stakeholders in the constitutional alteration processes and administrative bottlenecks to embrace the vision of full local government autonomy.

“Also champion changes to the constitution that enshrine and guarantee genuine independence for local governments, granting them control over their resources, decision making authority, and the power to chart their development paths.

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“Urge the federal agencies to fully comply with the existing legal provisions that empower local governments, ensuring timely release of allocated funds directly to their bank accounts, and streamlining administrative processes.


“Call on the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to resuscitate local government system in Nigeria.”

In the motion sponsored by Suleiman Kawu, (NNPP, Kano South), lawmakers argued that if key national challenges must be addressed, the local government institution must be revived.

Former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, recalled how in the past, councillors could award small contracts, but lamented the current dearth of governance at the grassroots.

In the lead debate, Kalu said: “In the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development close to the ground.

“Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly, and shape communities from inside out.


“But, the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration.

“However, the dream of achieving the objectives of the local government system encountered harsh realities. Successive governments often eroded local autonomy, limiting their financial resources and control over decision-making. Corruption scandals and mismanagement tarnished the image of some local governments, fuelling public cynicism. Uneven development across the country also meant limited resources were only sometimes distributed fairly, leaving some communities feeling neglected.

“Some governors play a crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration process. With limited financial and operational autonomy, local governments might struggle to effectively address local security concerns, like community policing initiatives, intelligence gathering, and infrastructure maintenance.”

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Fubara tackles Wike over Rivers heavy debt



The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Tuesday, stated that his administration inherited a huge debt burden on projects embarked upon by the immediate-past administration of Nyesom Wike.

Fubara said several contractors, who handled different projects for Wike’s administration were coming for their balance payment running into billions.

The disclosure opened a new vista in the crisis between the governor and his predecessor and estranged godfather,Wike.

The immediate-past governor, it will be recalled, was dubbed “Mr Projects” as he embarked on a lot of projects, including the construction of 12 flyovers and invited dignitaries, including President Bola Tinubu, to have them inaugurated before he handed over to his successor.


Wike, at the time, also claimed that he had paid for the projects and, on many occasions, thanked former President Muhammadu Buhari for paying the arrears of the 13 per cent allocation to the Niger Delta states owed them since 1999.

The revelation of huge debts by Fubara, who was the state’s Accountant-General during Wike’s tenure, came a day he declared his intention to probe Wike’s eight-year administration.

Speaking on Monday during the swearing-in of Dagogo Iboroma as the new Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Fubara disclosed plans to set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate how the affairs of governance were conducted in the state before he assumed office.

Further to his Monday stance, Fubara, during the inauguration of the reconstructed 10.89km Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road in the Eleme Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, lamented that the contractors had been coming to demand their balance payment.

At the ceremony was the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, as the special guest.


Fubara stated, “This is to let the world know that if there is one problem this administration has, it is the huge debt burden. For most of the projects that are being inaugurated, the contractors are coming for their balance-payment and it is running into billions.

“I have said that I don’t want to talk. I didn’t want to talk because I was part of that system. But, when you keep pushing me to talk, I will say it so that the people will know the true situation of things and be properly informed.”

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor stressed how baffling the debts were, with the public impression of a clean balance sheet maintained with contractors.

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Fubara, however, expressed delight over the commencement of the celebration of his administration’s first anniversary with the inauguration of a road project in Eleme, where he lived when he started his working life.

The governor said the road was awarded on August 14, 2023 to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation at the cost of N6.7bn.


“I am happy to be here and to join the good people of Rivers State to start this wonderful celebration of our first anniversary in the face of all the troubles. It shows that we are still focused, not minding the level of distractions.

“This road was awarded to CCECC as a contractor. It was awarded on the 14th day of August, 2023. I believe that the 14th of August was within my tenure. I am not saying ‘I’, but it was this administration that awarded it.

“This project was awarded at the cost of N6.7bn, and I can say boldly that no kobo is remaining. We’ve paid the contractor its complete sum. Our gathering here is to tell our people that their problem is our problem,” the governor said.

Fubara described the road as a bypass to be used by motorists to avoid the deplorable sections of the East-West Road now under reconstruction.

He said embarking on the road project was to lend support to the Federal Government in its efforts to give hope to Nigerians and make life better for the people.


Fubara said: “What we are doing today, is it not helping the Federal Government? Is it not a show that this government has the interest of the people at heart and still supporting and doing everything to make the Federal Government succeed?

“So, when people come out and say some funny things, I laugh. Why are we doing this? When this administration came on board, Mr President christened his mantra ‘Renewed Hope’ to give Nigerians hope.

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“What we are doing today in this state is giving our people hope, to complement what Mr President is doing at the national level. It is not about social media. We are talking about action, genuine actions that make a positive impact in the lives of our people.”

Fubara alluded to an unnamed person who, he said, insinuated that on the assumption of office, he started a fight against the Federal Government and wondered about the veracity of such an allegation.

“We are talking about the Federal Government that is giving us support, and we appreciate the support. But there is a rat in the house that is eating the bags of garri. So, you can imagine such a situation,” he said.


Explaining further, the governor alleged that someone was stoking the crisis to distract both the state and federal governments from delivering the promises to give the people hope and leave lasting legacies, impactful policies and programmes for posterity.

Fubara thanked the people of Eleme for their support during the period of the execution of the project, as, according to him, the contractor never complained of any challenges from the communities.

The governor explained the rationale behind the invitation extended to Governor Otti to inaugurate the project, as he described him as a pragmatic man.

Fubara said, “I invited him (Otti) because he is not an artificial integrity man. He is an action-integrity man. He is not like the one who would gather people to talk because they just want to talk.

“He is a man who came into office in the face of difficulties and challenges, just like we are here, but he is making an impact in the lives of Abians.


“So, I will continue to identify with good governance. I will continue to identify with the people who want to make an impact in the lives of the people. Our government, as we promised you on day one, is the people first.”

Performing the inauguration of the project, Otti congratulated Fubara on the stride and for remembering to execute a road project in the Eleme community where he once lived.

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Otti stated, “I have always said that leadership is about service. Anytime leadership departs from service, then you are getting it wrong.

“Service should be service to the people, not service to self or a few interests. Anytime you are serving a few people rather than the majority, you need to go and look at yourself again.

“So, for me, it’s all about good governance. Clearly, Governor Fubara came prepared, and I don’t believe that any distraction is enough to take his focus away from improving the welfare and interest of the people.


“I can assure you, Rivers people, that the dividend of democracy that you are seeing now is still a dress rehearsal. It is early in the morning, and I am sure that in no distant future, you will be seeing more.”

Otti charged the people of Eleme and Rivers State to continue to support Fubara to do even more.

He said, “No matter how the dice is flipped, power belongs to God. No human can arrogate to himself the capacity to give power, except you have the capacity to give life. Of course, you can take life, but you cannot give it.”

A former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Orji Ngofa, acknowledged that the project, popularly known as the Old Bori Road, had collapsed as a result of the heavy vehicular traffic taken off the East-West Road.

Ngofa thanked Fubara for reconstructing the entire stretch of the road, adding that it would improve the well-being of the people, while also serving the transportation and economic needs of all users of the road.


At the ceremony, the Oneh-Eh Eleme, Chief Philip Obele, conferred on Fubara the traditional title of Emere Ajuri Oneh of Eleme (meaning King of Peace of Eleme Kingdom).

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