24th March, 2015
By Henry Ojelu
A former Attorney General of Bayelsa state, Chief Anthony George – Ikoli SAN has filed a suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja challenging the eligibility of the Chairman of Silver Group, Ben Bruce in contesting the Bayelsa East Senatorial District election.
Chief George -Okoli is asking the court to disqualify Ben Bruce from contesting the election on the ground of his dual citizenship.
Bayelsa East Senatorial district comprises of three local governments namely Brass, Nembe, and Ogbia Local governments. Four people contested for the senatorial slot; they are Bruce, George-Ikoli, Madam Irene Digitemi and Mr Nelson Belief. The leadership of the PDP at the state had allegedly prevailed upon other candidates to step down for Bruce on account of his closeness to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The originating summons filed before the court by Chief George-Ikoli seeks the court to determine the following issues:
Whether having regard to the combined provisions of Sections 66(1)(a) and 28(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), an aspirant for the elective office of the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who whilst voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of another country (that is the United States of America) and in the process of which he (the aspirant) declares on oath, the absolute and entire renunciation of citizenship of and allegiance and fidelity to Nigeria can without more be eligible and seek election to the office of Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Whether an aspirant to the elective office of the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has declared under oath, that “he will support and defend the constitution of the United States of America, and he absolutely and entirely renounces and abjures all allegiance and fidelity to every prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, (including the Federal Republic of Nigeria) of whom or which he was heretofore a subject or citizen” is eligible by the clear provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended);
Whether a citizen of the United States of America whose citizenship is voluntarily acquired by subscription to the “Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America” and which oath absolutely and entirely abjures allegiance to a foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which he was heretofore a subject or citizen is eligible by the plurality of the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to contest for the elective office of Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Whether the third defendant is not wrong to accept the nomination of the first defendant by the second defendant as its nominee for election to the office of Senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District at the forth coming 2015 National Assembly elections in view of the renunciation of the citizenship of Nigeria by the first defendant’s subscription to the absolute, unconditional and entire oath of allegiance of the United States of America;
Whether the first defendant having voluntarily subscribed to the absolute oath of allegiance to the United States of America and acquired its citizenship is not hereby ineligible to contest for the office of Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and
Whether the second defendant is not wrong to present the first defendant as its candidate for the election to the office of Senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District
In a 15 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Chief George-Ikoli, he alleged that after the primary elections at which he came second, he undertook an independent investigations of the entire process leading to the primaries and discovered that the first defendant had disclosed in the affidavit he deposed to in INEC form C.F 001 that he had voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the United States of America and owes allegiance to that country.
He stated further: “I was shell shocked to know that the third defendant cleared the first defendant to run for Bayelsa East Senatorial District election when it is apparent on the face of the affidavit that he had voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria”.
He therefore asked the court to declare that the candidature of the first defendant suffers legal disability, and therefore an order disqualifying him from contesting forth coming Bayelsa East Senatorial District elections.