- Says Malami’s Action Predicated On ‘Inordinate Ambition’
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), Wednesday, clarified that he didn’t file any lawsuit challenging the citizenship of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Malami, in an affidavit supporting a suit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, had claimed that Atiku is not eligible to contest for the Presidential seat of Nigeria.
However, following criticisms trailing the affidavit, Malami, on Wednesday, said he was not the one who approached the court to query the citizenship of Atiku.
This was contained in a statement, signed by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
In the statement, Malami, said the recent affidavit he filed before the court was in support of a suit filed in 2019 by the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa(EMA).
The EMA had filed a suit challenging Atiku’s eligibility to contest for President in the 2019 Presidential election. The organization argued that Atiku was not eligible to contest for any top office in the country considering the provisions of sections 25 (1) &(2) and 131(a) of the Constitution.
The suit which was marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/177/2019, had been filed before the 2019 general elections, however, it was yet to be heard or determined.
On March 15, Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, noted that the suit was ripe for hearing and subsequently fixed May 4 for the commencement of the suit hearing.
However, Malami, disclosed that his affidavit, which argued that Atiku is not a Nigerian and was not born by Nigerian parents, was filed in line with the directive of the presiding Judge, regarding the suit filed in 2019.
According to the AGF, the suit had been widely reported in 2019, when it was filed, adding that some mischief makers are trying to take advantage of the situation to cause confusion.
The statement reads, “The matter in contention was part of the 2019 pre-election matters instituted by a Civil Society Organization – the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2019 in respect of which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was made a co-defendant. The issue had already been widely reported by the media since April 2019.It is unfortunate that stale news stories capable of causing confusion are repackaged and presented to the general public as current news.
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis of Amalgamated Atiku Support Group, has reacted to the argument of the AGF, regarding the citizenship of Atiku, accusing him of being blinded by the 2023 Presidential election.
Malami through his team of lawyers led by Oladipo Okpeseyi, SAN, argued that Atiku is not constitutionally eligible to contest for any top position in the country, as he was born on November 25, 1946, at Jada, which was part of Northern Cameroon, at that time. However, by the plebiscite of 1961, the town of Jada was incorporate into Nigeria.
The affidavit partly reads, “The first defendant (Atiku) is not qualified to contest to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The first defendant is not a fit and proper person to be a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The first defendant 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.”
Reacting in a statement, the group of Atiku’s supporters criticized the AGF for challenging the citizenship of Atiku, describing it as disgrace to the judiciary of the country.
According to the group, the development is worrisome as “the occupant of the exalted office (of AGF) is acting as if he is the Attorney General of the ruling APC.”
This was contained in the statement signed by its Director of media, Remi Adebayo.
The group, however, urged the court to maintain its integrity by not allowing “itself to be a pawn in the hands of AGF Malami”.
The statement reads, “In accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami is expected to be the Chief Law officer of the entire nation. As the Attorney General of the Federation, it becomes a huge source of concern when the occupant of the exalted office is acting as if he is the Attorney General of the ruling APC. For Malami to join the suit filed by a hurriedly put together group known as Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA) begs the question as to what the interest of Malami the AGF is. 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 same affirmed by the Supreme Court at the final judgment during the Presidential election petition tribunal. It is therefore laughable and inconceivable to see the Attorney General of the Federation putting his weight behind such an exercise in futility. For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku’s Nigeria’s citizenship is a settled matter, and anything contrary to that is a figment of Malami’s warped imagination. However, 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. But 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.
“We urge the courts not to allow itself to be a pawn in the hands of AGF Malami, even as 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,” the group said.