Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Abuja-based lawyer behind the case seeking to disqualify the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the presidential race, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, has said his motivation is to ensure that the provisions of the Nigerian constitution are upheld in the matter of the opposition party’s presidential candidacy.
Ajulo, the coordinator of a pro-President Muhammadu Buhari group, Forward With Buhari (FWB), in a suit filed by incorporated trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa at the Federal High Court, Abuja, slated to be heard on Monday, February 25 by Justice I E Ekwo, is asking the court to disqualify the opposition candidate on the grounds that he was allegedly not a Nigerian citizen at birth.
Speaking with THISDAY on the motive of the legal action, particularly after the presidential hopeful had served as a vice president of Nigeria, the lawyer said there is no better time to take up the issue than now being that “this is the time Atiku is running for presidential election,” reiterating that “this is not pre-election matter but a constitutional matter.” He added that “I am a lawyer. The law must take its course. Even if heaven must fall, the law must take its course.”
According to him, “I am not bringing up this case because of partisanship. It is a constitutional matter. That is why the question we are asking the court is for the court to interpret Section 25 (1) and (2) that talked about citizenship of Nigeria and then Section 131 (a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that talked about the eligibility of a person to contest presidential election, which must be by birth; not by marriage, naturalisation or proclamation.
“Can this person say he is a Nigerian by birth? So, from his narrative let the court look at it. If the court finds that he is not a Nigerian, he stands disqualified. Even if he has been sworn-in, he stands disqualified.”
In an affidavit deposed in support of the plaintiff’s action, the deponent averred that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 and that from his personal testimony gazetted and published in most national dailies in circulation, he had said he is from Jada town in Adamawa and Jada used to be in Ganye local government area in Adamawa.
Ajulo hopes to tell the court “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.”