PDP, APC react to sack of Ondo federal lawmaker over UK citizenship status
The Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has rejected the ruling of the elections petition tribunal sitting in Akure, which sacked Ikengbolu Gboluga, member representing Okitipupa/Irele federal constituency in the House of Representatives.
In a statement issued on Thursday by the party’s Director of Publicity in the state, Zadok Akintoye, the PDP described the tribunal’s ruling as lacking basis.
Recall that on Wednesday, Gboluga’s victory at the February 2019 House of Representatives election was nullified for holding both the Nigeria citizenship and that of the United Kingdom, UK.
The party emphasized that the issue of citizenship being specified in the constitution and Gboluga has not contravened any electoral law.
The statement read, “We reject in its entirety the decision of the Elections Petitions Tribunal which nullified the legitimate mandate of the people of Okitipupa-Irele Federal Constituency given to Hon Ikengboju Gboluga of our party.
“We find the basis upon which the decision of the Tribunal was made, deeply troubling and at variance with the constitutional provisions under section 25 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“The constitution, by virtue of section 28(1) which deals with dual citizenship and forfeiture of Nigerian citizenship, states expressly that:
Subject to the other provisions of this section, a person shall forfeit his Nigerian Citizenship if, NOT being a citizen Nigeria by birth, he acquires or retains the citizenship or nationality of a country, other than Nigeria, of which he is not a citizen by birth.
“Hon Ikengboju Gboluga, therefore, as a Nigerian citizen by birth cannot forfeit his citizenship if he acquires the citizenship of another country. This position has been endorsed by the Supreme Court in several cases. The possession of a secondary citizenship as in Hon Ikengboju Gbolugas’ case is therefore NOT a reason for the court to invalidate his victory at the polls. His Nigerian Citizenship by birth cannot be forfeited on any ground as posited by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.”
The statement further read that, “Let it be on record, that the petitioners in this case, lost the election with a margin of well over 90,000 votes and only won in his ward in his local government with a margin of less than 20 votes.
“Thus, we conclude that the Tribunal should have upheld a legitimate victory rather than use technicalities that are purely procedural to seek to set aside a valid election.
“Our party, therefore, rejects in its entirety the decision of the Tribunal which is in variance and contravention of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore would be appealing this judgment.
“We enjoin all members of our party to remain calm as we retrieve this mandate at the appeal court,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the APC in the state had commended the judgement of the tribunal which nullified the election of Ikengboju.
The Ondo State chairman of APC, Ade Adetimehin hailed the resilience of Akintoye to reclaim his mandate in court, stressing that it is an added advantage to the APC fold in the National Assembly.
Adetimehin, however, appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately issue a certificate of return to Akintoye as directed by the tribunal.