Malami insists Atiku isn't Nigerian by birth, ex-VP hits back at AGF

The attorney general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has submitted that former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, isn't Nigerian by birth.

Atiku was born in Jada, Adamawa state, 1946. But Jada wasn't part of Nigeria until 1961.

The 74-year-old Atiku was born way before Jada was incorporated into Nigeria from Cameroon.

Malami submits that this means Atiku, who is a serial presidential aspirant, isn't Nigerian by birth, and not eligible to contest for the highest office in Nigeria.

Citizenship by birth is a prerequisite for seeking the office of the President of Nigeria, according to the constitution.

The AGF argues 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 a presidential candidate in future elections.

This is all part of the AGF’s argument in support of a suit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA).

The EMA is challenging Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president and praying 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; and that allowing him to do so in the past violated the nation's constitution.

The suit was filed before the 2019 presidential election, and is yet to be heard and determined.

However, it was mentioned in court again on March 15, 2021, with Justice Inyang Ekwo noting that it is now due for hearing, with May 4 fixed as next hearing date.

The affidavit read in part: that: “The first defendant (Atiku) was born on the 25th of November, 1946 at Jada, at the time in northern Cameroon. By the plebiscite of 1961, the town of Jada was incorporated into Nigeria.

“The first defendant is a Nigerian by virtue of the 1961 plebiscite, but not a Nigerian by birth. The first defendant’s parents died before the 1961 plebiscite.”

In his written address, the AGF argued that the effect of the June 1, 1961 plebiscite was to have the people of northern Cameroon integrated into Nigeria as new citizens of the country.

He added: “This qualified all those born before the 1961 plebiscite as citizens of Nigeria, but not Nigerian citizen by birth. Consequently, only citizens born after the 1961 plebiscite are citizens of Nigeria by birth.”

Meanwhile, Atiku, who lost the 2019 presidential contest to Muhammadu Buhari, has hit back at Malami, saying the AGF has ambition to be president.

A group known as the Amalgamated Atiku Support Group says Malami has a “vaulting” ambition to be president, but noted that such expectation will “collapse on his face”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Remi Adebayo, media director of the group, said the issues surrounding the citizenship of the former vice-president have been settled.

Adebayo said it is laughable that Malami is putting his weight “behind such an exercise in futility”.

“The suit before the court challenging the citizenship of Atiku Abubakar, it would be recalled, has been exhaustively dealt with by the court of appeal and affirmed by the supreme court at the final judgment during the presidential election petition tribunal,” he said.

“It must be expressly stated that Malami’s action is predicated on his ambition to run for the office of the President to take over from Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

“This inordinate ambition of Malami can be glimpsed from how desperately he moved against some of his own party men who have indicated interest to run against him in the APC, but ultimately, Atiku Abubakar is seen as the biggest threat hence this heinous move to stop the former Vice President.

“We have no doubt that this plot shall fail. Malami’s belief that he can use his position as the chief law officer and the instrumentality of the courts to achieve his vaulting ambition will also collapse on his face.”

Adebayo also urged the court not to be swayed by the AGF.

“We ask Nigerians to speak up and rise against this evil machination as it is capable of denying them (Nigerians) the much-needed good governance that would be brought by Atiku Abubakar when, God willing, he is elected into the office of the President come 2023,” he added.

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