Court Fixes Date To Hear Suit Querying Atiku Abubakar’s Citizenship

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has slated July 20 to hear the fresh suit that is challenging the eligibility of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to contest the 2023 presidential election.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, ordered substituted service of all the legal processes on Atiku to enable him to respond to the suit.

It directed that the former VP, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should be served within seven days, through the publication of the court processes in a national daily.

Specifically, the plaintiff, asked 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?”.

As well as, “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?”.

Upon the determination of the questions, the plaintiff prayed the court to declare that by virtue of Sections 1(1) & (2), 25, and 131(a) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is only a Nigerian citizen by birth that is constitutionally eligible to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“A solemn declaration of this Honourable Court that given the circumstances of the birth of the 1st Defendant, he is not constitutionally qualified to stand for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“An order of this Honourable Court disqualifying the first Defendant – Atiku Abubakar – from contesting for election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“A declaration that the 2nd Defendant (the PDP) does not have a candidate for the office of the President in the 2023 Presidential Election to be organised by the 3rd Defendant.

“An order of perpetual injunction of this Honourable Court restraining the 1st Defendant from contesting for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or occupying the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by whatever means and throughout his lifetime.

“An order of perpetual injunction of this Honourable Court restraining the 2nd Defendant from fielding or presenting the 1st Defendant as its candidate for the 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Likewise, “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd Defendant from accepting and or publishing the name of the 1st Defendant as a candidate of the 2nd Defendant for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the forthcoming 2023 Presidential election”.

On grounds upon which he is seeking the relief, the plaintiff told the court that the 1st defendant (Atiku) acquired his citizenship of Nigeria by virtue of the 1961 plebiscite which integrated some people of Northern Cameroon into Nigeria as new citizens of Nigeria

“On the 28th day of May 2022, the 1st Defendant emerged as the Candidate of the 2nd Defendant for the 2023 Presidential election following the primary election conducted by the 1st Defendant.

“Allowing the 1st Defendant to participate in the 2023 Presidential election as the Candidate of the 2nd Defendant would amount to a grave desecration of the otherwise sacrosanct and inviolable provisions of Sections 1(1) & (2), 25 and 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“The 3rd Defendant is under a bounden duty to ensure that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof except in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

“The Plaintiff is an Apostle of Rule of Law, an adherent of constitutionalism, social justice crusader, and defender of Rule of Law.

“This suit is a public interest Litigation aimed at protecting the sanctity of the constitution being the supreme law of the land (suprema lex), to protect the public interest of seeing that constitutional supremacy as provided for in the constitution itself is enforced, adhered to and rendered not impotent or made a mockery of”, the Plaintiff averred.

It will be recalled that a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi had approached the court, contending that Atiku is not constitutionally qualified to participate in the presidential contest.

The Plaintiff, in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/751/2022, posed two legal questions for the court to determine, after which he sought seven principal reliefs against Atiku, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who were cited as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants in the matter.

The Attorney-General of the Federation was also joined as the 4th defendant.

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