• Saturday, December 09, 2023
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Lagos deputy governor denies taking oath of allegiance in USA to renounce Nigerian citizen

Obafemi Hamzat

Obafemi Hamzat, Lagos State deputy governor, has debunked a viral report claiming that he took an oath of allegiance in the United States to renounce his Nigerian citizenship.

This was contained in a statement made available to the media over the weekend, in which Hamzat’s media team described the claim as misleading and a plot by the opposition party to discredit his candidacy for the 2023 general election.

Reports in recent days stated that a United States Immigration lawyer, Olubusayo Fasidi, claimed Lagos Obafemi Hamzat had renounced his Nigerian citizenship.

It was claimed that Olubusayo Fasidi mentioned this before the Lagos gubernatorial election tribunal, claiming that Hamzat, the third respondent in the petition, also applied for naturalisation as contained in Forms 8CFR/337 and N400.

However, in a statement released by Hamzat’s camp, the claim was debunked.

The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to inaccurate reports of the proceedings of the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, circulating on various online platforms to the effect that ‘Lagos Deputy Governor, Renounced Nigerian Citizenship’

“The aforestated is not what transpired at the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on 21st of June 2023.

“In a bid to advancing the course of the Labour Party outside of the proceedings of the Election Tribunal, the reports have deliberately set out to mislead members of the general public and to whip up sentiments against the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, and his Deputy,

“The truth of what transpired at the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which is verifiable from the Records of the Tribunal, accessible to the public, is detailed below:

“On the 21st of June 2023, the Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal took the evidence of one Miss Olubusayo Fasidi, a U.S immigration lawyer who admitted to practicing in the United States of America. She was subpoenaed by the Petitioner [Labour Party] to give evidence as to the status of the 3rd
Respondent [Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat] as a Nigerian Citizen before the Tribunal.

“However, Objections were raised as regards her status as a subpoenaed Witness, given that she had no Written Statement on Oath before the Tribunal; moreover, her Written Statement on Oath, filed out of time was eventually withdrawn by the Counsel to the Petitioner.

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“Notwithstanding the Objections, the Tribunal in her overriding wisdom allowed the Witness to proceed to give oral evidence and reserved its ruling as regards the Objections raised till the final judgment.

“Thus, during the Examination-in- Chief, the said subpoenaed witness tendered two documents namely, a blank Form of Application for U.S Naturalization and a blank Oath of U.S Allegiance Document, tagged Forms 8CFR/337 and N400 respectively which were admitted and marked as Exhibits.

“When the witness was cross examined by the 1st Respondents (INEC) Counsel- the witness was asked whether she was a Nigerian citizen, and she answered in the affirmative.

“With respect to the question of whether the witness is a citizen of the United States of America, she equally answered in the affirmative; having naturalized prior to that time.

“When the counsel further asked the witness whether she has renounced her Nigerian Citizenship, the witness responded in the affirmative.

“The witness confirmed she was familiar with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, however, she declined responding to questions bordering on the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution regarding dual citizenship and renunciation of citizenship (as provided for in sections 28 and 29 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), on the premise that her evidence is limited to her knowledge of the Immigration law of the United States of America, without more.

“During cross- examination by Counsel for the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (the incumbent Governor and Deputy Governor of Lagos State), enquired from the witness whether she entered the country with a Nigerian visiting visa, given her claims of renouncing her Nigerian citizenship, but the witness said she did not need a Nigerian visiting visa because she still retained her Nigerian passport.

“The witness was asked of the nature of her relationship with one Anna Nweke, to which she responded that Anna Nweke was the person who attested to the documents (Forms 8CFR/337 and N400) that she tendered as exhibits, as to where the attestation was done, she said that the attestation was done upon her arrival in Lagos State, Nigeria.

“When the witness was confronted with the fact that the only two documents, she was basing her claims on, were merely downloaded blank documents, the witness stated that she had downloaded the blank documents from the official website of the US Embassy.

“The witness was thus unable to produce the actual documents, the specific jurisdiction of the United States and the particular date when the 3rd Respondent [Dr. Hamzat] applied for naturalization or took the purported Oath of Allegiance. She equally admitted that she had not attended the ceremony admitting Dr. Hamzat as a citizen of the United States of America.

“During her cross examination by Counsel to the 4th Respondent (APC), the witness admitted to the fact that the American Constitution recognizes dual citizenship with particular reference to 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ratified on July 9, 1868.

“The witness was challenged further that the documents she tendered supports the process of application for naturalization which ultimately culminates in the issuance of an American passport and nothing more.

“The witness in reaction to additional questions confirmed that she did not need to obtain a Nigerian Visiting Visa because she entered the country with her Nigerian Passport.

“With respect to the question whether the witness was aware that the 3rd Respondent [Dr Hamzat] fully disclosed the details of his American Citizenship in the Form EC9 submitted to INEC, the witness answered in the affirmative.

When the witness was again asked whether she had ever sighted the Oath of Allegiance of US Citizenship Form of the 3rd Respondent, the witness responded in the negative.”

The statement, therefore, urged the general public to disregard the claim, describing it as the deliberate falsehood being bandied about regarding the status of the citizenship of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State.