Court To Rule On Atiku’s Citizenship February 21

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed February 21, 2022 for judgment in a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa querying the citizenship of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.


Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Monday after counsel in the matter filed on February 11, 2019, ahead of the presidential election, adopted their written submissions.


The organisation had, in its suit, asked the court to disqualify Atiku as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and to prevent him from contesting the February 16, 2019 presidential election over his citizenship.


Atiku, PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as the Attorney General of Adamawa State were listed as defendants.


The suit was seeking an interpretation of Sections 25(1) and (2) and 131(a) of the 1999 constitution.


The plaintiff also wanted the Court to determine, “Whether Section 25 of the constitution is the sole authority that spells out ways by which a person can become a Nigerian citizen by birth.


“Whether by the provisions of Section 131 (a) of the constitution, only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of President.


“Whether by the combined interpretation of Sections 25(1) and (2) and 131(a) of the constitution and given the circumstances surrounding the birth of Atiku, he can be cleared by PDP and INEC to contest for office of the President.


“A declaration that by the combined interpretation of Sections 25(l) and (2) and 131(a) of the constitution and given the circumstances surrounding Atiku’s birth, he cannot be cleared by PDP and INEC to contest for President.”


The plaintiff, in the suit, said if the court resolves the issues in its favour, it should declare that by the provisions of the 1999 constitution, only a Nigerian citizen by birth could contest for President.


An affidavit deposed to by one Michael Okejimi, a legal practitioner in the law firm of Kayode Ajulo, who filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiff, averred that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 and that from Atiku’s own testimony that was gazetted and published in most national dailies in circulation, he is from Jada town in Adamawa and Jada used to be in Ganye Local Government Area in Adamawa.


He said, “That Ganye is regarded as the mother of the whole Chamba tribe and was never part of Nigeria legally as at the date of birth of Atiku. That none of Atiku’s parents or grandparents was born in Nigeria and his father died a citizen of Northern Cameroon in 1957 prior to the referendum of June 1, 1961 that made Northern Cameroon a part of Nigeria.”


While urging the Court to dismiss the suit with substantial cost, Atiku and his party said the plaintiff, which lacks the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action had failed to prove that he is not a citizen of Nigeria.


Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), representing Atiku, in a preliminary objection to the suit, said the plaintiff’s case was statute barred, having been brought 129 days after the act complained of, which borders on the nomination and eligibility of Atiku as a candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general election, while the primary election which the former Vice President emerged was conducted on October 6, 2018, contrary to election 285(9) of the constitution.


After adoption of all the written submissions in respect of the matter, Justice Ekwo adjourned till February 21, 2022 to deliver judgment.

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