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Why Caution Needs Be Taken In Interpretation of 25% Win In FCT – Olanipekun SAN

President Bola Tinubu

Legal counsel to President Bola Tinubu, Mr Wola Olanipekun (SAN) has warned the court to exercise caution in the interpretations of the 25 percent must win in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for any Presidential aspirant to be declare winner.

Apparently speaking the mind of President Bola Tinubu, he warned the election tribunal against causing anarchy and chaos in the country over its interpretation of constitutional provisions of whether securing 25 per cent of lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is mandatory to win a presidential election.

Indeed, he asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition seeking to nullify his election on the grounds that he did not win 25 per cent of the FCT votes.

The Constitution says to be declared winner of Nigeria’s presidential election, a candidate must secure at least 25 per cent of votes cast in 2/3rd of the entire 36 states including Abuja.

Tinubu, through Wole Olanipekun, his counsel, in a final written address to the tribunal against the petition, said the FCT is the 37th state for electoral purposes and any other interpretation would “lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature”.

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Olanipekun said the petition is novel and not familiar with the country’s electoral laws.

“The petition in issue in this address is very novel in the sense that it is not a petition stricto senso, familiar to our electoral jurisprudence as the petitioners are not, this time around, complaining about election rigging, ballot box snatching, ballot box stuffing, violence, thuggery, vote buying, voters’ intimidation, disenfranchisement, interference by the military or the police, and such other electoral vices,” he said.

Tinubu contested the February 28 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and was declared the winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He secured a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had the second-highest figure of 6,984,520 votes, while Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 6,101,533 votes.

However, Atiku and Obi approached the tribunal seeking to upturn Tinubu’s victory.

The petitioners, among other grounds, said Tinubu failed to secure 25 per cent of votes cast in the FCT.

Olanipekun: What the law says

Section 3(1) of the constitution specifically lists the states by their respective names and that the FCT is classified “in the same manner and to the same extent”, hence 25% of votes in the FCT is not required by law.

“May we draw the attention of the court to the fact that there is no punctuation (comma) in the entire section 134(2)(b) of the constitution, particularly, immediately after the ‘States’ and the succeeding ‘and’ connecting the Federal Capital Territory with the States. In essence, the reading of the subsection has to be conjunctive and not disjunctive, as the Constitution clearly makes it so.

“Pressed further, by this constitutional imperative, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is taken ‘as if’ it is the 37th State, under and by virtue of section 299 of the Constitution.”

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