By Kenneth Atavti
Constitutional lawyer, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi, yesterday, asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the eligibility of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to contest the 2023 presidential election.
The plaintiff, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/751/2022, maintained that Atiku, who is the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is not constitutionally qualified to participate in the presidential contest.
Consequently, he posed two legal questions for the court to determine, after which he sought for 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.
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?”.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) had declared that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is not eligible under the constitution to contest for President of Nigeria.
The AGF argued that, having not been born a Nigerian or by Nigerian parents, and having not met the provisions of Sections 25(1) &(2) and 131(a) of the constitution, Atiku would be violating Section 118(1)(k) of the Electoral Act should he put himself forward as candidate.
These form part of the AGF’s arguments in support of the suit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA) which was dismissed by Justice Ekwo of the federal High court Abuja two months ago.
The EMA had challenged Atiku’s eligibility to contest for President and prayed the court to hold among others, that considering the provisions of sections 25(1) &(2) and 131(a) of the constitution and the circumstances surrounding his birth, the former vice president cannot contest for the top office.