Source: This Day (Abuja)
Though the Federal High Court merely struck out the suit challenging the citizenship of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on technical grounds, analysts argue that facts before the court suggest that the suit was just an academic exercise, Alex Enumah writes
It was a huge relief for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar when a Federal High Court in Abuja last week struck out the suit challenging his citizenship of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), in 2019, to challenge Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president, Justice Inyang Ekwo struck out the suit for lacking merit. He described the plaintiff as a “busy body,” who had no locus standi to query the citizenship of the former vice president.
To properly understand the instant case, Atiku was born November 25, 1946, before Nigeria’s Independence in 1960 in Jada town in Ganye Local Government Area of Adamawa State. This area was never part of Nigeria legally until the February 1961 plebiscite in which the people of the then Northern Cameroon voted to join Nigeria. Atiku’s father was from Jada Village of the old Northern Cameroon.
After the plebiscite that made Northern Cameroon part of Nigeria in 1961, all the people of Northern Cameroon, whether born before or after 1960, were seen as Nigerians and all the communities therein became indigenous to Nigeria. Therefore, the legal implication of the 1961 plebiscite is that all communities of the “British Cameroon” are deemed to be communities indigenous to Nigeria. In fact, the people in Northern Cameroon were not part of the Republic of Cameroon, but they belonged to a geographical territory controlled by the British Colonial masters.
The question many observers are asking is: Can someone born before independence outside Nigeria in a community not indigenous to Nigeria become a Nigerian by birth? NO! But Atiku’s case is different.
To further buttress the argument canvassed above, Section 10 of the 1963 Constitution is to the effect that those who became Nigerians by virtue of the February 1961 plebiscite are deemed to be citizens of Nigeria by birth and their communities are indigenous to Nigeria