• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Controversy trails Fashola’s comment over Tinubu’s dual citizenship, others

Controversy trails Fashola’s comment over Tinubu’s dual citizenship, others

Controversy has continued to trail the comments made on Sunday by Babatunde Raji Fashola, minister of Works and Housing, that Nigerians should be more interested in finding out if Bola Ahmed Tinubu, president-elect, had the capabilities and ability to deliver on campaign promises, than his alleged dual citizenship.

Fashola, who appeared on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme, was not only amazed but seemed disgusted that Nigerians were discussing the alleged dual citizenship of the president-elect.

He said that Nigerians should rather be interested in verifiable results and how many lives Tinubu has impacted, using that as a yardstick to judge the incoming president.

“I think that makes it more interesting, and I think those issues have been ventilated sufficiently. You know what the Nigerian people have decided — that those issues don’t matter —that is what they have said by this vote,” he said.

“I know he carries a Nigerian passport, but I don’t know anything about dual citizenship,” he said.

He insisted that the Nigerian constitution allows aspirants to political offices to have dual citizenship. Not convinced with his answer, he promised to check the constitution again.

But Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and senior advocate of Nigeria, reacting to Fashola’s explanation on his twitter handle, said: “The answer, @seunokin, is in s. 137(1) of the 1999 Const. It is a fact-sensitive determination dependent on how & when @officialABAT acquired his Guinean citizenship. If he acquired it by naturalisation as an adult, then he cld be under an incurable legal disability….”

Martin Onovo, a former presidential candidate and lawyer, expressed shock that with Fashola’s training and exposure, he was still in doubt over what the Constitution says on dual citizenship and what amounts to misconduct.

Read also: 2023 Election Tribunal: ‘Judges must understand that it is Judiciary that is on trial’

“There is a case in Abuja court which is Enahoro-Ebah vs Tinubu. It is a criminal case against Tinubu. The LP has also filed a case at the tribunal against Tinubu’s forfeiture of money in the United State. Let the court rule on those cases first before Fashola makes such a statement that he is not guilty. Fashola statement amounts to judiciary misconduct; he is a senior lawyer he should know better. There are many other cases against Tinubu in court; there is the APP case and many others,” Onovo said.

Seun Alaofi, a lawyer, said: “Fashola has expressed his view and we should respect his opinion on the matter. Nigerians have dissipated so much energy on politics in recent months; it is time for us to face governance. The question should be; is Tinubu not a Nigerian? This case has been legislated upon, even Keyamo said they took him to court and the court has ruled over the matter and they did not see anything damaging against Tinubu.”

Idowu Omolegan, a legal practitioner, said: “The case is in court but they are all giving different views on the matter; it is against the rule; let’s wait for the tribunal to give their verdict.”

Fashola had insisted that what mattered, like in other democratic countries, were the processes, character, ability, and capabilities of the leader(s).

He said: “Again, you must understand that we are not looking for saints. All the accusations leveled against him are either unproven or there was no evidence offered in support of them.”

The question about Tinubu’s dual citizenship has gathered so much attention on Twitter after investigative journalist, David Hundeyin, posted the INEC declaration form of the president-elect, which showed that he denied being a citizen of another country outside Nigeria.

Hundeyin insisted that Tinubu has the international passport of Guinea, thereby making him a citizen of the country — a situation that means he lied under oath in his INEC form when he stated that he was only a citizen of Nigeria. According to Nigerian electoral laws, it’s an offense called perjury (lying under oath).

BusinessDay learned from a October 28, 2015, ‘The Cable’ published a story on how Tinubu extended his political tentacles to faraway Guinea by handling the electioneering process and campaigns of President Alpha Conde.

Tinubu, after masterminding the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, where he defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, was approached by Conde to help him win the election in Guinea and return to power, even after protests from many of the opposition candidates who insisted that the elections be postponed.

After his victory, Conde paid a thank-you visit to Tinubu instead of President Jonathan.

Guinea, like Guinea-Bissau, is a major transit route for big drug cartels from Colombia, Spain, Nigeria, and a few other countries, and many are connecting Tinubu’s international passport claims to this.

However, Guinea is perhaps one of the few countries on the African continent where an international passport can be acquired for the right price by foreigners.

A BBC report some years ago showed how the Guinean authorities apprehended two police officers for being part of a syndicate that specialises in getting international passports for foreigners. These are foreigners who either want to get to Spain en route Morocco or just want to get there to fake their identities.

Apparently, Tinubu’s media aides have yet to provide clarification to either debunk the INEC declaration form where he stated to be a citizen of Nigeria only or that he possessed the Guinean international passport.

Chapter 6, Section 137, of the Nigerian Constitution states that “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of president if, subject to the provision 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.”