Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), says the resurgence of the argument that Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is not a Nigerian but a Cameroonian, is proof that whatever he says on Radio Biafra is nothing but the truth.
One of the hottest topics of Nigerian politics of the moment is last week’s claim by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that Atiku should have been ineligible to contest in the first place because he is not a Nigerian by birth.
The party made this argument in its reply to the 139-page petition filed by Atiku and his party before the presidential election petition tribunal in Abuja.
In the reply, filed by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), its lead counsel, the party said Atiku was born in Jada, now Adamawa State but then in Northern Cameroon as of his birth in 1946, and is therefore a citizen of Cameroon. It accused the PDP of fielding a non-Nigerian as its candidate, and also faulted the competence of the petition.
Atiku discussed the matter in a somewhat tenuous response, saying: “The fact that the APC chose to base its defence on the ridiculous assertion that the Waziri Adamawa is not a Nigerian should show to Nigerians the type of characters we have in the APC and its government, whose legitimacy runs out on May 29, 2019.
“The position of the APC is so pedestrian and shows such straw clutching desperation on their part, that I shall not dignify it with an answer. Our lawyers would, of course, do the needful in court. But the point I want to draw the attention of Nigerians to is that both the APC and its candidate have by this infantile logic admitted to the fact that they trampled on the will of Nigerians and that their only defence is to attempt an unconstitutional redefinition of the term ‘Nigerian.’”
Contributing to the talk via his latest Radio Biafra broadcast, Kanu said, “The headline ‘Atiku Is Not a Nigerian, APC Tells Tribunal’ is vindication that everything I say on Radio Biafra is the truth. It may appear outlandish and unbelievable at first, but eventually history always vindicates me.
“As everyone can see very clearly, it is unambiguously stated that for you to become the President of Nigeria, you must be born a Nigerian. Simply put, your birth certificate or any official notation must say clearly that you are a Nigerian. As at the time Atiku was born, his citizenship on his birth certificate read Cameroonian.
“The incontrovertible truth is that His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar the former Vice President of Nigeria for eight years, became a Nigerian by virtue of the referendum of the 11th of February 1961. He was not born a Nigerian and as such he became a Nigerian as a result of the British organised plebiscite held in British Cameroons to give the people of Adamawa, where Atiku comes from, the opportunity to choose where they would like to belong.
“When I first raised this issue, which incidentally has been ignored by all arms of government including INEC whose duty it is to ensure that candidates meet all stipulated constitutional requirements, it was not to insinuate or imply that Atiku is not a Nigerian, but rather to highlight the very constitutionally critical point at the heart of IPOB agitation for Biafra independence; which is that asking for a referendum is never a crime in any law known to man.
“Therefore if Adamawa people can be allowed to freely choose where they wish to belong, then justice and equity dictates that we the people of Biafra must be allowed to do the same. This point that is lost on Justice Binta Nyako and numerous other semi-literate judges handling IPOB cases today in Nigerian courts.”
Kanu criticized Atiku’s defence team over its “weak and porous argument” that if Atiku was not a Nigerian he wouldn’t have become the country’s Vice-President, while living, investing and paying tax in Nigeria. He argued that by virtue of relevant sections of the Constitution, anybody born in Adamawa between 1946 when Atiku was born, and 1960, was not qualified to contest election as President of Nigeria.
“This is a wholly unnecessary digression that failed to address the constitutional question of place of birth as key qualification for anybody seeking to become the President of Nigeria,” he said.
“That Atiku was the Vice President is not the issue at hand but rather his suitability as defined by the constitution of Nigeria. With this ridiculous born in Nigeria requirement, nobody born in present day Adamawa before 1961 or those of us born in Biafra from 1967 and 1970 can ever vie for the office of the president of Nigeria.
“Atiku Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, now Adamawa State, then in Northern Cameroon, was a citizen of Cameroon but now a Nigerian by plebiscite. This information has always been in the public domain. What I did was just to flag it. The only part that can be said that I pioneered is that Atiku became a Nigerian citizen by the sheer force of Referendum which is what I want for Biafra. I wanted to prove to some ignorant Nigerians and their quack judges that asking for a referendum is not treasonable felony.”