A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the suit challenging the eligibility of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to contest for the office of President.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, on Monday, held that the non-governmental organisation, which brought the suit, lacked the locus standi to do so being “busy bodies and meddlesome interlopers.”
Justice Ekwo said as an NGO registered under Part C of the Corporate Affairs Commission, it could not abandon its objectives to jump into public interest litigation.
The Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission of Africa (EMA) had in 2019 filed the suit against the Atiku, PDP, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over Atiku’s citizenship.
The NGO had contended that Atiku was not eligible to contest for Presidency, saying he was not a Nigerian by birth as provided in sections 25(1) &(2) and 131(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999.
As a party to the suit, the office of the AGF, through its counsel, Dipo Opeseyi (SAN), had averred that although a Nigerian by the 1961 plebiscite that excised southern Cameroon from Nigeria, Atiku was not a Nigerian by birth because “the first defendant (Atiku)’s parents died before the 1961 plebiscite.”
But the Adamawa State Government, in its application to join the suit, informed the court that Atiku was indeed a Nigerian from the state and had been elected as Adamawa state governor in 1998 and served as the Vice President of the country between 1999 and 2007.
The application, which was brought by the Attorney General of the state through counsel, L.D. Nzadon, argued 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 State origin covering 12 out of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state including areas like Ganye, Jada, Toungo, part of Mayo-Belwa, part of Fufore, part of Song, part of Hong, Maiha, Mubi-North, Mubi-South, Michika, and Madagali.
While reacting to the judgement, counsel to EMA, Akinola Oladimeji Esq., on behalf of Kayode Ajulo and Co., said the decision of the court was in error because there was a superior court’s decision on the legality of incorporated organization instituting actions for the protection of the extant provisions of the constitution and statutes.
“Without prejudice to the judgment of the court, in the main time, we have commenced our client’s further brief to appeal and to file a motion for injunction pending appeal for an order of the court restraining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from parading himself as a Nigerian Citizen by birth in contravention of the extant provisions of Sections 25 and 131 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal,” he said.