Human rights activist, Mr Kayode Ajulo, has written a letter to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, on the danger of picking a candidate with dual citizenship or past criminal record.
Ajulo said there was a plot by the opposition to ensure that the APC was disqualified on the basis of this just as was done in the Bayelsa governorship race in February 2020.
This was just as the APC on Sunday indefinitely postponed its screening for its 25 presidential aspirants.
According to Ajulo, at least 22 aspirants out of the 25 that are expected to be screened either have dual citizenship or criminal records and this would be used in disqualifying the APC.
The Punch independently confirmed that Senate President Ahmad Lawan has dual citizenship as stated on his form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2018. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is also believed to possess dual citizenship.
In a letter titled, ‘Secret Memo to the President and Leadership of the APC on the Eligibility of Persons to Contest for the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’ dated May 22, 2022, Ajulo said it was important for the APC to get its act together so that the party would not lose its deserved victory.
Ajulo asked the APC to take into consideration the 1999 Constitution specifically Chapter VI, Part 1, Section 131 and which outlines the basic requirements to be met by a candidate to be eligible for an election into the office of the President in Nigeria.
He said these requirements include: the aspirant must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth; the aspirant must have attained the age of 40; the aspirant must be a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and must be educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent.
Ajulo added, “Section 137 of the same constitution as amended, goes further to illuminate this matter by providing for several situations which doth render a candidate ineligible to be elected as the President, stating that a candidate will be ineligible: If he/she has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or has declared allegiance to such other country.”
He noted that the constitution also disqualifies anyone that has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial committee of inquiry or an administrative panel of inquiry or a tribunal and which the indictment has been accepted by the federal or state government; or if he/she has presented a forged certificate to INEC.
The lawyer added that the constitution disqualifies anyone who has been found guilty of an offence involving narcotic drugs or any other psychotropic substance by any court or tribunal in Nigeria or any other country.
Ajulo added that the opposition was already monitoring the situation with a view to taking advantage of the fact that only three out of the 25 presidential aspirants were eligible to contest.
When contacted, Yinka Oyebode, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ekiti State governor, said on Sunday that the allegation of dual citizenship against his principal was a non-issue.
Oyebode said, “It is a non-issue. Dr Fayemi is eminently qualified to contest for any position in Nigeria. He is a bonafide citizen of Nigeria. He has every right. He has been contesting in Nigeria since 2007. Whatever anybody is saying to the contrary is a non-issue.”
Also, the Spokesman for Lawan’s campaign organisation, Iyke Ekeoma, said the constitution permits dual citizenship hence, no one can be disqualified on the basis of dual citizenship.
He said, “I am not aware of the information that the Senate President has dual citizenship. However, Lawan wouldn’t have been running for the presidency if it were true that the constitution does not allow for a person with dual citizenship to be President.
“The constitution guarantees Nigerians that they can have dual citizenship. So, I don’t see how that stops you from running for the office of the President because every other Nigerian is entitled to it.”
The founder, Tinubu Support Group, James Faleke, did not respond to calls on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the screening exercise for the 25 presidential aspirants of the APC earlier scheduled to hold on Monday has been postponed indefinitely.
This is the second time that the National Working Committee of the party will be shifting the date of the presidential screening after it failed to hold last weekend.
The development was confirmed in a statement by APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, on Sunday night.
The statement said, “A new date for the exercise will be announced shortly. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”
The list of the aspirants who have so far submitted their nomination forms are the National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osibanjo; former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former Minister of Niger Delta Development, Sen. Godswill Akpabio; Governor Kayode Fayemi, Governor Ben Ayade, Governor Dave Umahi, oil magnate, Tein Jack-Rich; Governor Yahaya Bello and 16 others.