Justice Ekwo announced the date for judgment after the counsel in the matter adopted their written submissions in respect of the matter.
The suit, filed on February 11, 2019 before the presidential election, was brought by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa. Specifically, the plaintiff is asking 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 alleged circumstances surrounding his citizenship.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday adjourned till February 21, 2022 to deliver his judgment in a suit querying the Nigerian citizenship of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
The defendants include Atiku, PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice as well as the Attorney General of Adamawa State.
They are asking the court to interpret Sections 25(1) & (2) and 131(a) of the 1999 Constitution and 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) & (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”.
The group went forth to ask the court to declare that by the combined interpretation of Sections 25(l) & (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 that 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.
In 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 is 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.
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.
In 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, has failed to prove that Atiku 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 the 6th of October, 2018, contrary to election 285(9) of the constitution.
He said: “The suit was filed on February 11, 2019 and ought to be heard and determined within 180 days as provided by Section 285(10) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) by the 4th Alteration No.21 Act, 2017.”
Other defendants in the matter aligned with the submissions of the counsel to Atiku in urging the court to dismiss the suit of the plaintiffs.
In his submissions, Akinola Oladimeji from the chambers of Kayode Ajulo, urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objections by the defendants, adding that the plaintiff has deposed to an affidavit to the effect that Atiku is not a citizen of Nigeria.
He said the argument canvassed by Atiku and his party are of no moment and should be dismissed as misconceived and lacking in merit, adding also that the plaintiff has the locus standi to file the action, having shown sufficient and established a threat of injury he would suffer.
After listening to the submissions of all lawyers in the suit, Justice Ekwo then adjourned till February 21, 2022 to deliver judgment