Atiku struggles to remove obstacles on the road to the Presidency
Can there be truth in the speculation that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was not born in Nigeria?
Is it also possible that a Nigerian who is not born in the country is qualified to contest as a presidential candidate on the platform of a political party?
What then is Atiku’s proper status as a citizen when it comes to enjoying certain basic rights that are guaranteed under the constitution?
These are some of the issues that a court holden in Abuja would dwell on when hearing begins in a matter brought by a civil society organization.
The civil society organization, Egalitarian Mission for Africa, has a feeling there might be something fishy about Atiku’s citizenship.
Accordingly, it is asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to consider the following:
“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 office of the president.
“Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 25(1) (2) and 131(a) of the constitution and giving the circumstances surrounding the birth of Abubakar, he can be cleared by the PDP and INEC to contest for the office of the president.”
The Civil Society group is further asking the court for “A declaration that by provisions of Section 131(a) of the constitution, only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of president.
“A declaration that by the combined interpretation of Sections 25 (1) (2) and 131(a) of the constitution, and given the circumstances surrounding the birth of Abubakar, he cannot be cleared by PDP and INEC to contest for president.”
However, Abubakar and the PDP, on which platform he contested the last election asked the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.
In their notice of objection filed jointly, they insisted that the former vice president was a bonafide citizen of Nigeria.
Besides serving as Nigeria’s vice-president from 1999 to 2007, Atiku said he has held many public and private offices, including serving as governor of Adamawa.
The former Vice president also disclosed that he was a commissioned officer of the Nigerian Customs Service.
According to him, his parents, grandparents and great grandparents were born in Nigeria and they lived, died as Nigerians and were buried in Nigeria.
He argued in court that the suit was filed in bad faith as part a move to malign his person.
Atiku stressed that the Plaintiff has no right to challenge his nationality, arguing that it has failed to show what interest it has above other citizens of Nigeria to be entitled to approach the court on the issue.
Prior to the 2019 elections, there were suspicions even within the PDP that the man who has climbed to staggering heights, and occupied sensitive positions in the country in the name of the North may not be a Nigerian.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday agreed to hear a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, challenging the citizenship claim of the former Vice President.
Emerging facts indicate that in 2019, the group instituted the matter challenging Atiku’s eligibility to contest the country’s presidential elections.
The suit was never heard at the time. The reason it was swept under the carpet for a while similarly remains largely unknown.
The suit, no. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2019
would now be heard on the 27th of September, 2021.
Recall that when the matter was called, counsel to the plaintiff, Akinola Oladimeji argued he was not prepared for the matter, given the time he received the notice of court.
Oladimeji revealed that he got wind of the Thursday hearing on Wednesday, saying he has all along been of the impression that the matter would be heard on the 20th of September, 2021.
The judge in a short ruling said he was not pleased that a date for hearing which which was duly conveyed to the parties before the court had become a subject of controversy.
If the court goes ahead with its threat to set aside the matter, the adjournment granted in favor of the Plaintiff at the last sitting would be the very last.
Joined in the suit are the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
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