Why we are testing Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship at tribunal–Festus Keyamo

...Says ‘A person doesn't need WAEC to be president or governor’

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The spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has said that the decision to test the matter of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship in court was a collective decision reached by more than 18 senior advocates representing the President and the APC at the Election Petition Tribunal.

Abubakar has petitioned the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, alleging that the March 9, 2019 presidential election was manipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in favour of the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking on Channels TV on Sunday night, Keyamo, stressed that the fact that Atiku served as a vice president for eight years does not make him a Nigerian, saying, “That is irrelevant.”

He queried, “Did you have access to security reports then; did the court look at that issue at that time? We are talking of qualifications to be President of Nigeria, not qualifications to be a Customs officer.”

Keyamo posited that the fact that matter of Atiku’s citizenship has never been tested in court before does not provide a platform for someone to keep doing “something that is wrong”.

The senior advocate noted that the issue of citizenship was just one of the six grounds raised to challenge the petition filed by the PDP at the Tribunal.

He charged “those who are informed” to go and read thoroughly Section 131 in conjunction with Section 25 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

“I can tell you for free that since 1960, this is the most useless petition that has been presented before any court of law, or any Tribunal to adjudicate,” he said.

In the meantime, Festus Keyamo, has noted that a certificate of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) is not a criterion to contest an election and emerge Nigeria president or governor in any state in the country.

“By the definition of “School Certificate or its equivalent” in section 318 of the 1999 Constitution. You don’t need a WAEC certificate to become President or Governor,” Keyamo said in a tweet while reacting to the Osun State governorship election scenario.

The Osun State governorship election has been a subject of national discussion since its supposed conclusion in September 2018.

The major contenders for the election were Isiaka Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Ademola Adeleke.

Oyetola, who polled 255,505 votes was declared the winner by INEC, while Adeleke of the PDP polled 255,023 votes.

Unsatisfied with INEC’s declaration, Adeleke and the PDP challenged the result in court and was declared the winner at the election tribunal.

Fresh controversy arose over Adeleke’s eligibility to contest the election after he was accused to have forged his WAEC certificate.

However, Keyamo said Adeleke did not need to “forge” his WAEC certificate to contest the office of a governor because WAEC certificate is not needed to contest the office of a governor in Nigeria.

“Let me end my free lecture series by saying that the crux of the matter is that if you don’t have a WAEC certificate, there’s no need to go ahead & forge one in a bid to be Governor or President,” Keyamo said.

“You can still be qualified, regardless. That’s the mistake made in Osun Case Scenario.”

“Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution defines “School Certificate or its equivalent” to mean primary 6 School Leaving Certificate plus the ability to just speak, write, understand and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of INEC. No WAEC certificate is needed,” Keyamo said.

On the academic requirement of the Office of Nigeria President, section 139 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution says person seeking the position must “have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

 

Samson Oyedeyi

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