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Court dismisses suit challenging Atiku’s citizenship, eligibility to run for president

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THE Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday dismissed a suit challenging former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship and his eligibility to contest Nigeria’s presidential election.

The suit filed by Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA) in 2019 had challenged Atiku’s eligibility to run for president on the grounds that he was not a Nigerian citizen by birth.

The EMA asked the court to hold, among others, that considering the provisions of sections 25(1) and (2) and 131(a) of the 1999 Constitution and the circumstances surrounding the former vice president’s birth, he was not qualified to seek election as Nigeria’s president.

Respondents in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2019 were Atiku, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Atiku and the PDP had asked the court to dismiss the suit, arguing that it was grossly lacking in merit.

The ICIR reported that the Adamawa State Government, through its Attorney-General Afraimu Jingi, had on July 27, 2021, sought an order of the court to be joined in the suit.

Jingi had, through his lawyer L.D. Nzadon, argued that it was “a public interest suit to ensure that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is complied with in the election of the President of Nigeria”.

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Nzadon said Atiku, against whom the suit was primarily directed, “is a citizen of Nigeria from Adamawa” who had been elected as a governor of the state in 1999 and served as the country’s vice president between 1999 to 2007.

The lawyer averred that the suit threatened the right of not just the ex-vice president to contest the office of the president “but that of the citizens of Nigeria, of Adamawa origin covering 12 out of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state”.

In his judgement, the trial judge, Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff that instituted the case lacked the locus standi to do so.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the judge described the plaintiff as a “busy body and meddlesome interloper”.

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