The spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Segun Sowunmi, and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Festus Keyamo, have disagreed on the citizenship of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Both men, who appeared as guests on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, made different remarks about the eligibility of the PDP candidate to contest the presidential election.
They, however, exercised restraint on how they addressed the issue as the matter was already in court.
Sowunmi believes the claims by the APC that Atiku is not a Nigerian are just part of the purported acts of the ruling party to distract the former vice president from reclaiming his mandate.
He insisted that the PDP candidate was one of the citizens of the country, stressing that Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, and Adamawa was one of them.
“Atiku Abubakar has been the former vice president of this country and I think that when this kind of issues come up, you begin to query who exactly and what exactly is the geographical expression of Nigeria,” the PDP member said.
He wondered how such an allegation could emerge when Atiku is the Waziri of Adamawa, adding that he was a top Customs officer for more than 20 years before he retired.
Sowunmi stressed that most Nigerians know a lot about Atiku’s background and affirmed that everything about the former vice president was that of Nigeria.
“I actual fact, Atiku’s grandfather is from Sokoto,” he said.
The PDP campaign spokesman stated explained, “Atiku’s grandfather followed his friend to Adamawa then was Gongola, and Atiku’s grandfather gave birth to Atiku’s father there. But it has never been under guesswork that Atiku is a full-fledged bona fide Nigerian.”
In his response, Keyamo who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that the matter was already in court and as a senior member of the bar, he cannot go into details about it.
He, however, advised “those who are informed” to go and read thoroughly Section 131 in conjunction with Section 25 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The APC member disclosed that the decision to test the matter in court was a collective decision reach by more than 18 senior advocates representing the President and the APC at the Election Petition Tribunal.
He stressed that the fact that Atiku served as a vice president for eight years does not make him a Nigerian, saying, “That is irrelevant.”
“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 stated.
He said that the matter 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 said, “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.”
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