By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA– The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, struck out a suit that sought to disqualify former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, from vying for the presidency in 2023.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177, challenged Atiku’s eligibility on the premise that he is not a Nigerian by birth.
A group, under the aegis of the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, had in the suit, urged the court to determine; “Whether section 25 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), is the sole authority that spells out ways by which a person can become a Nigerian citizen by birth?
“Whether by the provisions of section 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 section 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 (Atiku), he can be cleared by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?.
Upon determination of the questions, Plaintiff applied for a declaration that by the provisions of the Constitution, “only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It urged the court to declare that given the circumstances surrounding Atiku’s birth, he cannot be cleared by either PDP or the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to vie for Presidency.
However, the court, in the judgment that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, struck out the suit for want of merit.
The court held that Plaintiff, which is described as “busy body”, lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
Justice Ekwo held that since Plaintiff was bereft of the locus standi, the court, therefore, lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He held that reliefs Plaintiff sought before the court was outside the scope of its registration as a Non-Governmental Organization.
Meanwhile, the group, through its lawyer, Mr. Akinola Oladimeji, has vowed to take the matter to the Court of Appeal.
“While we commend the court for the wealth of industry of the presiding judge, it is quite instructive that though the matter was merely struck out, same can be refiled. However, our Client has instructed us to appeal the said decision to the Court of Appeal.
“As a civil society organisation established for the enthronement of rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution, our Client is resolute on ensuring that the law of the land must be strictly adhered to by all comers which is part of the mandate of the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission of Africa”, the Plaintiff stated.