A presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is scheduled to be screened today.
The PUNCH had reported that the APC would hold its presidential screening for two days, starting today.
This is as the name of former President Goodluck Jonathan is missing on the list of spirants expected to be screened.
Twenty-three aspirants are included in the list obtained by The PUNCH.
A source told our correspondent that the screening would hold in a top hotel in Abuja.
Apart from Tinubu and Osinbajo, others included in the list are Senate President Ahmed Lawan and former ministers Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio, and Chukwuemeja Nwajiuba.
Serving governors who are also listed for the screening are Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).
Others are former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole and serving Senators Ibikunle Amosun, Ajayi Boroffice, and Rochas Okorocha.
President Buhari’s running mate in 2011, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Uju Ken-Ohanenye, Nicholas Felix, Ahmad Rufai Sani, Tein Jack-Rich, Ikeobasi Mokelu are also expected to face the screening panel.
Earlier, the National Vice Chairman, North-West of All Progressives Congress, Salihu Lukman, said Jonathan is not yet a member of the party.
Lukman in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “Jonathan is not a member of the APC as far as this party is concerned. Jonathan is not a member of APC as far as we know. Besides, our membership in the political party is not a secret. Feel free to quote me please.”
How court ruling heightened speculation
A ruling of a Federal High Court had last week heightened speculations that Jonathan may contest the presidency under the APC.
According to some unconfirmed reports, Jonathan was considered as a consensus candidate by the APC leadership.
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, had ruled on Friday that the former President is eligible to contest the 2023 presidential election.
Mr Andy Solomon and Idibiye Abraham (plaintiffs) appròached the court, seeking an order to prevent Jonathan from running for the office of president by invoking the provisions of Section 137, (1b) and (3) which states that a person cannot take an oath for the office of the President more than twice whether elected or constitutionally appointed to complete the tenure of a president.
Delivering judgment in a suit marked FHC/YNG/CS/86/2022, Justice Isa Dashen, held that the argument of the plaintiff which is hinged on the introduction of Section 137 subsection 1b and 3 into the constitution in 2018 cannot be applied retrospectively to challenge the eligibility of Jonathan to run for president in 2023.
Why Jonathan can contest – Court
Justice Dashen held that before Section 137 (1b) and (3) was birthed in 2018 and there was no clear restriction on the number of times a person should run for the office of president.
He held that even in the said Section 137 (1b) and (3), the legislature did not clearly state if the law should be applied in retrospect or not.
Citing the case between Cyriacus Njoku and Goodluck Jonathan, Justice Dashen said that the appeal court in 2014 ruled that Jonathan was eligible to run for the office of president and that since there has been no appeal to contest the judgement of the appellate court, from that moment Jonathan acquired the right to run for president for a second term.
“The office of president is different from that of the vice president. And that is how the election into the two offices is different.
“Jonathan was constitutionally appointed to complete the office of the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua. And when Jonathan took the oath of office in 2010 there was no general election in Nigeria.
“The only time he took the oath of office through the election was in 2011. And in 2014 Cyriacus Njoku took Jonathan to court and the appeal court found that he was eligible to contest the election.
“And after that judgment, there has been no further appeal on the matter. This simply means that if he had not lost the 2015 election, he would have taken the oath of office twice without any legal impediments.
“The section stating how many times a person can take the oath of office twice took effect in 2018. And that section cannot be applied retrospectively in this case because, for a law to be applied retrospectively, the legislature must state clearly the intention for the section to be applied retrospectively.
“I have taken the pain to go through the law, and there is nowhere the legislature stated clearly that this section should be applied retrospectively.
“Based on these facts, the court holds that the suit seeking to declare the first defendant, Jonathan ineligible to run for the office of president for a second term, is dismissed,” he held.