LBW

Monday, 10 August 2015

SARAKI REFUTES ALLEGED DUAL CITIZENSHIP REPORT




THE allegation by an online news medium, The SaharaReporters, that Senate President Bukola Saraki holds a dual citizenship, which qualifies him from holding public office in Nigeria, is “totally fabricated,” his Special Assistant on New Media, Bamikole Omishore, has said.

Citing the story entitled, “Nigeria’s Senate President Saraki Lied In His Official Election Forms,” a statement by Omishore accused the medium of alleging that Saraki was not a Nigerian citizen by inferring, “based solely on suppositions, that Dr. Saraki intentionally avoided question 10 on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) form for candidates contesting National Assembly elections.”

It further claimed that, “by so doing, must have sworn to an oath of allegiance to another country, such as the United Kingdom. The article also suggested that the Senate President avoided stating his place of birth on the INEC form, and that he is intentionally concealing his UK citizenship to avoid being disqualified in any way from political office.”

Noting freedom of expression as a basic human right, the statement urged the medium to as well observe its limits, adding that journalism is meant to educate, orientate and bring out the truth to ensure justice, equity and fairness in every human endeavour.”

Wondering how a UK passport was forged in Saraki’s name, however, he called on UK Home and Passport Office to thoroughly investigate it. According to him, “Senator Saraki, on July 19, 2015, has instructed his solicitors in the UK to write the UK Home Office to commence immediate investigation into this act of criminality.

“There is no doubt that this is a typical criminal offence against the state and also an act of defamation of character against the President of the Senate, and whoever is found responsible should be prosecuted. Sahara Reporters, its cronies, allies and sponsors must be ready to face the full course of law upon conclusion of the investigation by the UK authorities.

“We hereby urge the public to remain vigilant and be watchful of reports and stories published by Sahara Reporters, as they may be laced with blatant lies, deceit and criminality devoid of any iota of truth. We shall make public, the outcome of the investigation by the UK Home Office and Passport Office.”

Omishore clarified that the constitution did not foreclose Nigerians born abroad from holding public office “since they are also citizens by birth.” Citing Section 25(1)(c) of the Nigerian Constitution, he noted, “every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria” are considered “citizens of Nigeria by birth.

“What this means is that even if the Senate President were born in the UK, he will qualify as a citizen of Nigeria by birth under S 25(1c) – citizen by birth through parentage. Also, there has always been a flawed misconception on the issue of dual citizenship vis-a-vis a holder of public office in Nigeria.

“Section 28 of the 1999 Constitution (as (amended) highlights that only those who are Nigerians by registration or naturalisation shall forfeit their citizenship if they acquire the citizenship of another country.

“It is important to state at this juncture that the requirement to forfeit nationality/citizenship upon acquisition of that of another country does not apply to persons who are Nigerians by birth within the definition of Section 25 of the Constitution.

“This section also acknowledges and protects the right to hold citizenship by birth of another country – as citizenship by birth is an inalienable right under the constitution. Furthermore, to put this particular issue to rest, the import of S.66(1)(a) of the constitution cannot be underestimated.

It states: “Subject to S.28 of the Constitution, anybody who has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country must be disqualified.”

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