Michael Aondoakaa, former minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says having dual citizenship cannot disqualify anyone who is a Nigerian by birth from contesting elections in the country.
The former AGF, who spoke in a chat with Arise TV on Tuesday, said dual citizenship can only disqualify “a person who obtains such status by naturalisation or registration”.
Shortly after Bola Tinubu was declared the president-elect, there were reports that he allegedly obtained citizenship of Guinea, a country in West Africa.
The allegation has generated reactions on social media, with many arguing that having dual citizenship bars Tinubu from contesting elections in the country.
They cited section 137 (1)(a) of the 1999 constitution that says: “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if — subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or, except in such cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, he has made a declaration of allegiance to such other country.”
However, Aondoakaa, noted that the complainants must first establish that Tinubu was not a Nigerian by birth before dual citizenship can become an issue.
“But assuming it was in the petition, the position of the law is that a person who has dual citizenship by naturalisation or registration cannot contest for president in Nigeria,” the former AGF said.
“But a person who is born in Nigeria, and acquired citizenship in another country, has the right to contest an election. It would be strange to say that the winner of the election, Tinubu, has the citizenship of another country. You must prove first that he is not a Nigerian by birth. That is the first challenge and if you can prove that. Then you can bring up the issue of acquiring another citizenship.”
After the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Tinubu the winner of the February 25 presidential election, both the Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) submitted petitions contending the outcome of the poll.
Aondoakaa said the dual citizenship allegation was not included in the electoral petition of both parties and is “more of an academic exercise”, adding that it is too late to amend the appeal at this stage.
“I have seen the petition of the Labour Party and it was not an issue in the petition,” he said.
“I am also sure it is not an issue in the petition presented by former vice president Atiku Abubakar. The argument is more of an academic exercise. It is not a ground in the petition, and at this moment, you cannot amend the petition.”