By Uche Amunike
Nigeria’s President-elect, Bola Tinubu’s Guinea Passport, which has just surfaced in the internet, has caused great media frenzy on social media as it gives the impression that he lied under oath to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, about being a citizen of another country apart from Nigeria.
Minutes before midnight, Saturday, Independent journalist, David Hundeyin, uploaded pictures of Bola Tinubu’s Guinea passport, which was issued in October 2015, and which would expire after five years in October 2020.
Hundeyin posted the images on his Twitter account with the image of the President-elect, clearly visible and his name boldly written as Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Bola Tinubu’s victory at the Nigerian General election held in February 25, 2023, met great resistance as his two major rivals , Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar found the results unacceptable. Presently, Peter Obi is in court, fighting to reclaim his mandate, stating that he had proof to show that he won the election, contrary to the final decision taken by the electoral umpire to declare Bola Tinubu president-elect of Nigeria.
After David Hundeyin exposed Bola Tinubu’s Guinea passport, aides of the president-elect who are known to be quick in coming to the defense of their principal, became silent and still haven’t attempted to addressed the matter.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, however, has expressed his doubts about the Nigerian constitution placing restrictions on a presidential candidate with dual citizenship from contesting elections.
Speaking, during a live program on Channels Television, Sunday Politics, he said that he would revisit the constitution to find out what exactly it specified on the matter, so as to know if it applied to presidential candidates, as well.
His words: ‘I know he resided abroad when he went on exile. I don’t know if they gave him American citizenship there. What does that have to do with the results of the election? The last time I checked, I think Nigeria’s constitution allows you to have dual citizenship.’
He continued: ‘I’ll go and check. It’s ‘place of birth’ o… if you were born to Nigerian parents. I’ll check that, but I doubt that the Nigerian constitution makes you disentitled if you have dual citizenship because the constitution allows you to have dual citizenship’, he said.
He continued: ‘According to Section 137(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if –‘subject to the provisions 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’.
Section 28(1) of the constitution provides that ‘a person shall forfeit forthwith his Nigerian citizenship if, not being a citizen of 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’.
The section adds, ‘Any registration of a person as a citizen of Nigeria or the grant of a certificate of naturalization to a person who is a citizen of a country other than Nigeria at the time of such registration or grant shall, if he is not a citizen by birth of that other country, be conditional upon effective renunciation of the citizenship or nationality of that other country within a period of not more than five months from the date of such registration or grant.’