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Atiku Not Nigerian By Birth, He Can’t Run For President, Says Malami

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has told a federal high court sitting in Abuja that former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, is not  a Nigerian by birth and can’t run for president in Nigeria.

Malami  made this known in an affidavit in support of a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2019 and filed before the court by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA).

African Examiner recalls that EMA, in 2019, had instituted the suit to challenge Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president.

The EMA is asking the court among others to consider the provisions of sections 25(1) &(2) and 131(a) of the constitution and the circumstances that have to do with the birth of the former vice-president who cannot contest for the number one political office in the country.

The AGF through his legal team which was led by Oladipo Okpeseyi accepted that Atiku is not a Nigerian citizen by birth.

“The first defendant (Atiku) is not qualified to contest to be president of the federal republic of Nigeria,” Malami stated.

“The first defendant is not a fit and proper person to be a candidate for election to the office of president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

“The first defendant was born on the 25th of November, 1946 at Jada, at the time in Northern Cameroon. By the plebiscite of 1961, the town of Jada was incorporated into Nigeria.

“The first defendant is a Nigerian by virtue of the 1961 plebiscite, but not a Nigerian by birth. The first defendant’s parents died before the 1961 plebiscite.”

Malami stated that the effect of the June 1, 1961 plebiscite was to integrate the people of Northern Cameroon to become citizens of Nigeria even after Nigeria’s independence.

“This qualified all those born before the 1961 plebiscIte as citizens of Nigeria, but not Nigerian citizen by birth. Consequently, only citizens born after the 1961 plebiscite are citizens of Nigeria by birth,” he added.

He made reference to the provisions of 1960, 1963, 1979 and 1999 constitutions saying that the “reasoning of the lawmakers in ensuring that the persons to be the president of Nigeria is a citizen of Nigeria by birth is because such a person is the number one citizen and the image of the Nigerian state”.

“This is even more so where his parents do not belong to any tribe indigenous to Nigeria until their death,” he said.

“The facts of his (Atiku’s) birth on the Cameroonian territory to Cameroonian parents remain unchallenged.

“At best, the first defendant can only acquire Nigerian citizenship by the 1961 plebiscite. The citizenship qualifications under Section 26 and 27 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), by implication, has limited the first defendant’s privileges or rights and cannot be equal or proportional to the privileges of other citizens who acquire their citizenship status by birth.

“This would include the legal preclusion of the first defendant from contesting for the office of the President of Nigeria.

“If either his parents had become Nigerian citizen by virtue of Section 25(1) of the 1999 Constitution, which must be in compliance with Sections 26 and 27 of the same constitution.

“With no concrete proof of compliance, we submit that the first defendant cannot contest election to the office of the Nigerian President.”

According to the minister, Atiku committed an offence under section 118(1)(k) of the Electoral Act when he contested and won the office of the vice-president in 1999.

However, Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have enjoined the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

In their joint notice of objection, they stated that Atiku is “a bonafide citizen of the federal republic of Nigeria”.


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