APC cannot redefine who qualifies as a Nigerian – Atiku
He said the response of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) President Buhari, as well as the party is a vindication of the petition he filed at the Electoral Tribunal hearing the petition.
In a release signed by his spokesperson Mazi Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said he based his case on facts and statistical evidence and challenged both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC, to disprove his factual submissions.
The release said: “That the APC chose to base its defence on the ridiculous assertion that the Waziri Adamawa is not a Nigerian should show to Nigerians the type of characters we have in the APC and its government, whose legitimacy runs out on May 29, 2019.
“The position of the APC is so pedestrian and shows such straw clutching desperation on their part, that I shall not dignify it with an answer. Our lawyers would, of course, do the needful in court. But the point I want to draw the attention of Nigerians to is that both the APC and its candidate have by this infantile logic admitted to the fact that they trampled on the will of Nigerians and that their only defence is to attempt an unconstitutional redefinition of the term ‘Nigerian.’
“I am, however, confident in the Nigerian judiciary, as well as in the Nigerian people. I trust that the Tribunal will treat such a claim with the contempt it deserves. We must maintain our fidelity to the rule of law and to our fountain of origin, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).”
The release reminded that Atiku Abubakar has served the nation diligently in various capacities, from the Civil Service, where he rose through merit, to the top of his chosen field, to public service, where, by the grace of God, he was the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Moreover, he has committed his assets and talents to developing our nation through the provision of tens of thousands of direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs. I make bold to state that those who have made Nigeria the world headquarters for extreme poverty are the very people whose Nigerianness should be in doubt, and not a man, who worked with President Olusegun Obasanjo to double the per capita income of our nation in less than eight years,” the statement said.
MEANWHILE, Lawyers have weighed in on the subject of who is a Nigerian.
A professor of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Edoba Omoregie said where someone was born is irrelevant if before the country’s independence and after, the fellow’s parents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria to a community indigenous to Nigeria.
“I think the provisions in Chapter III of the Constitution is relevant because they provide for what make a Nigerian by birth. If you look closely at section 25 (1) (a) – (c) and (2), you will see that where you were born is irrelevant if before independence and after, your parents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria to a community indigenous to Nigeria. Or where before independence, your grandparents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born to a community indigenous to Nigeria,” he explained.
According to him, citizenship by birth also relates in the same context if the person was born in Nigeria and his parents or either of them, or any of his grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria. Any of them, he said, must belong to a community indigenous to Nigeria.
Omoregie said: “Now, on the issue of those born in a place not forming part of Nigeria, and none of whose parents or grandparents is a Nigerian pursuant to the foregoing provisions, the issue becomes relevant if the place can truly be said not to be part of Nigeria.
“Nigeria as we know it included the British trust territories of some areas of current Adamawa State and some areas of current Southern Cameroon. In 1961 those places were asked in a plebiscite to choose whether or not they wanted to remain in Nigeria. Prior to that time, persons from those areas were accorded recognition as British protected citizens of Nigeria like those in the entire Nigeria were so regarded.
“By independence in 1960, that situation continued until the plebiscite when parts of current Southern Cameroon chose to belong to Cameroon while part of current Adamawa chose to remain in Nigeria.
“It’s preposterous to suggest that even at independence, those territories where not Nigerian territories, when they weren’t also Cameroonian territory. Where then were they? No one can be stateless.”
He argued that the ancestral (indigenous background) roots is more than relevant because it immediately dispenses with where a Nigerian by birth (as provided in the Constitution) was actually born. If it is established that one of the parents or grandparents was or is from a community indigenous to Nigeria, such a person could be born even in Mars, and still be constitutionally regarded as a Nigerian by birth provided any of his parents or grandparents is of a community indigenous to Nigeria, he stressed.
“So, if a person was born in London in 1950, and his parents (or grandparents) were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria; and from a community indigenous to Nigeria, that person is a Nigerian by birth,” he declared.
Also, Lagos based legal practitioner, Dr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN) described the allegation as silly.
“Seriously, this is silly by anyone saying this. The press should lambast anyone saying this. I’m APC but I don’t subscribe to this nonsense. Let’s find more serious points to raise,” he fumed.
Abuja based lawyer, Abubakar Sani is of the view that since Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution said one cannot contest for the Office of the President of Nigeria unless he is a citizen by birth, Atiku will have some explanations to make.
“I completely agree that that disqualifies Atiku who was allegedly born in Jada, Adamawa State at a time the place was part of Cameroon,” he stated.
According to him, the chickens have finally come home to roost and “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
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