The Adamawa State government, on Tuesday defended a former Vice President Atiku Abukakar’s eligibility to contest for the Presidency before a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Attorney-General (AG) of Adamawa, Afraimu Jingi, told Justice Inyang Ekwo while moving a motion on notice, seeking to be joined in the suit filed by a group against Atiku and three others.
The lawsuit was filed by the group, an Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA) with Atiku, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.
EMA is challenging Atiku’s eligibility to contest for presidency on the grounds that he was not a Nigerian citizen by birth.
The group asked 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 the former vice president’s birth, he cannot contest for the top office.
But Jingi, through his lawyer, Chief L.D. Nzadon, in the motion dated April 26 and filed June 24, sought an order of the court to be joined in the matter.
Moving the motion, Nzadon based his argument on 21 grounds.
The lawyer described the matter as “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.”
He said the Adamawa AG is a chief law officer of the state who must be brought in as a party.
“The Attorney-General is traditionally the guardian of the public interest in any public interest litigation,” he added.
According to him, this matter can not be effectively and conclusively determined unless the Attorney General of Adamawa is joined as a party.
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 vice president of the country between 1999 to 2007.
He said the suit threatens the right of not just the ex-vice president to contest the office of president “but that of the citizens of Nigeria of Adamawa State origin covering 12 out of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state.”
“Every citizen of Nigeria whatever his ethnic, religious or cultural background or persuasion should have the same right to vie for any political position under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as any other citizen.
“To disenfranchise the citizens of the 12 local government areas of Adamawa State in relation to the office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is to discriminate against them contrary to Section 42(1)(a), (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” Nzadon told the court.
“The government and people of Adamawa State have a greater interest in this suit than the 4th respondent (AGF).
“It is the constitutional responsibility of the Adamawa Government to advance and protect the political, social and economic interests of the citizens of Nigeria from Adamawa State,” the lawyer said.
Since counsel to other parties in the suit did not oppose the motion, Justice Ekwo granted the prayer.
The judge, who gave the applicant seven days to file and serve all their processes, adjourned the matter until Sept. 27 for hearing of the substantive suit.
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