AFederal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed July 20 for the determination of a suit challenging the nationality of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku was in May elected to represent the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Tuesday, ordered substituted service of all the legal processes on the former Vice President to enable him to respond to the suit.
It directed that he should be served within seven days, through the publication of the court processes in a national daily.
Johnmary Jideobi, a lawyer, had approached the court to challenge the eligibility of Atiku to contest the presidency.
According to Jideobi in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/751/2022, the PDP candidate is not constitutionally qualified to participate in the presidential poll.
In the suit, which also has the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) listed as second and third defendants, Jideobi posed two legal questions for the court to determine, after which he sought seven principal reliefs.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is the fourth defendant in the matter.
Among several issues for determination, the plaintiff is asking the court to determine “whether by the combined provisions of sections 1(1) & (2), 25 and 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The lawyer also wants the court to determine “whether by the combined interpretation of sections 1(1) & (2), 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, he can be cleared by the 2nd and 3rd defendants to contest for the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria”.
The development comes months after a court dismissed a similar case filed against Atiku prior to the 2019 elections.
In 2019, a group, the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, had filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177, challenging Atiku’s eligibility to run for president on the premise that he is not a Nigerian citizen by birth.
Abubakar Malami, the AGF, in an affidavit to support the suit, had said Atiku is not a Nigerian citizen by birth and therefore, not eligible to run for president in Nigeria.