Court Adjourns Suit To Disqualify Atiku From Presidential Race

The Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, which was presided over by Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, has adjourned hearing on a fundamental human rights suit instituted by an Onitsha-based human rights activist and lawyer, Dr. Jezie Ekejiuba, against Federal Government and four others, seeking disqualification of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to February 1, 2023.

Joined in the suit No.FHC/AWK/CS/198/2022 are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as 2nd defendant, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 3rd defendant, PDP as 4th defendant and Atiku as 5th defendant, respectively.

Justice Nganjiwa chose the date after hearing the ex-parte application moved by Ekejiuba for substituted service of the originating processes on respondents. The court granted an order to serve respondents at their respective headquarters in Abuja by substituted means.

In the suit, the plaintiff stated that by allowing Atiku to contest the presidential election, his right as a Nigerian citizen would be infringed upon.
He further pleaded with the court that it will be fundamentally wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari, a Northerner, to hand over to Atiku, another Northerner, in 2023, regardless of convention on power shift between the North and South.

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According to him, the power rotation policy between Northern and Southern Nigeria, which has been in practice since 1999, should be respected, and every Nigerian should be given a sense of belonging.

The plaintiff, in his legal argument in support of the application, insisted that his fundamental right to be accorded his privilege or advantage is protected under section 42(1)(b) of the amended 1999 Constitution, which prohibits inequality or unequal treatment of citizens.

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He also noted that the constitutional right to have or be given a sense of belonging to the nation, which is his privilege or advantage, is conferred on him and protected by the Federal Character Policy under section 14(3) of the Constitution. He noted that this is also defined by section 318 of the same Constitution.

Ekejiuba, who is the President of Voters Rights Association of Nigeria (VRAN), is, among other reliefs, seeking N200 million from each of the respondents as compensatory and general damages for the threatened violation or gross violation of his fundamental right to freedom from discrimination.

He is also seeking for an order setting aside, nullifying and/or voiding, from the onset, any election of the 5th respondent (Atiku) as the next president of Nigeria to succeed Buhari.

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