An Abuja-based lawyer, Johnmary Jideobi, has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to disqualify Atiku Abubakar from vying for the 2023 presidential election.
With the fresh suit, Mr Abubakar, who emerged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Saturday, has one more legal hurdle to cross in his race to be Nigeria’s president.
But in February this year, a similar case challenging Mr Abubakar’s Nigerian citizenship was struck out by a federal judge – Inyang Ekwo.
Mr Ekwo cautioned the plaintiff – incorporated trustees of the Egalitarian Mission for Africa – a nongovernmental organisation – to desist from filing frivolous suits aimed at harassing politically exposed Nigerians.
The judge held that the incorporated trustees lacked the right to institute the legal action, describing them as “busy body and meddlesome interlopers.”
Nigeria’s Supreme Court had also in 2019 dismissed a similar application by the APC in the aftermath of the 2019 presidential election.
In the new suit, the plaintiff challenges Mr Abubakar’s Nigerian citizenship, despite serving as Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007.
According to court filings, Mr Jideobi mentioned Mr Abubakar, the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants.
He argued that Mr Abubakar is not constitutionally qualified to contest in the presidential election. He claimed that Mr Abubakar is not a Nigerian citizen by birth as required under the Nigerian constitution.
Mr Jideobi contends that Mr Abubakar “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.
The plaintiff claimed that, “Allowing the first defendant (Mr Abubakar) to a participant in the 2023 presidential election as the candidate” of the PDP 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).
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“The third defendant (INEC) 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.”
Mr Jideobi is asking the court for a “declaration that by virtue of Sections 1(1) & (2), 25 and 131(a) of the Constitution, 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.”
He further seeks a “declaration that given the circumstances of the birth of the first defendant (Atiku), he is not constitutionally qualified to stand…
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