Lawyer files suit challenging Atiku’s citizenship

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A lawyer, Johnmary Jideobi, has approached a federal high court in Abuja to challenge the eligibility of a former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, to contest the presidential election in 2023.

Abubakar was, on Saturday, elected to represent the PDP as the party’s standard bearer in the 2023 general election.

The plaintiff, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/751/2022, is contending that Atiku is not constitutionally qualified to participate in the presidential poll.

In the suit, which also has the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission listed as second and third defendants, Jideobi posed two legal questions for the court to determine, after which he sought seven principal reliefs.

The attorney-general of the federation (AGF) is the fourth defendant in the matter.

Among several issues for determination, the plaintiff is asking the court to determine “whether by the combined provisions of sections 1(1) & (2), 25 and 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), only a Nigeria citizen by birth can contest for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The lawyer also wants the court to determine “whether by the combined interpretation of sections 1(1) & (2), 25(1) & (2) and 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and giving the circumstances surrounding the birth of the 1st Defendant, he can be cleared by the 2nd and 3rd defendants to contest for the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.”

The development comes months after a court dismissed a similar case filed against Atiku before the 2019 elections.

Recall that in 2019, a group, the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177, challenging Atiku’s eligibility to run for president on the premise that he is not a Nigerian citizen by birth.

The AGF, Abubakar Malami, in an affidavit to support the suit, had said Atiku is not a Nigerian citizen by birth and, therefore, not eligible to run for president in Nigeria.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, however, in the judgment delivered on February 21, 2022, dismissed the suit for lacking merit.

Ekwo also described the plaintiff as a “busy body”, who had no locus standi to query the citizenship of the former vice-president.

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