25% In FCT: INEC Reveals Why Tinubu Was Declared President-elect

25% In FCT: INEC Reveals Why Tinubu Was Declared President-elect

by Victor Ndubuisi
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has determined that receiving 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja is not a requirement for a candidate to be declared the victor of the presidential election.

The clarification was made by INEC in a statement filed by its attorneys before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) about the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

Responding to a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, INEC stated that the constitution requires two-thirds of the votes cast in at least 24 states of the federation, as well as a majority of all votes cast.

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Based on this, the electoral umpire held that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was appropriately declared the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25 after meeting all constitutional requirements.

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INEC submitted that Tinubu was declared the winner because he “scored 25 percent of the valid votes cast in 29 states of the federation.”

It added: “Having scored at least one-quarter of the valid votes cast in 29 states, which is over and above the 24 2/3 states threshold required by the Constitution, in addition to scoring the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election, the second respondent was properly declared the winner and returned as the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The second respondent, having scored 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in the 29 states, has satisfied the requirement of the Constitution to be declared winner of the presidential election, thus rendering the requirement of having 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in the FCT unnecessary.

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“The declaration and return of the second respondent were not wrongful and was made in accordance with the provisions of Section 134 (2) (b) of the Constitution, the second respondent having scored one quarter (25 per cent) of the valid votes cast in 29 states which are beyond the constitutional threshold for such declaration.

“The first respondent (INEC) denies that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory is a condition precedent to the declaration and return of a candidate in the presidential election.”

INEC explained that the constitution does not grant the FCT a unique status that must be requested for in order for a winner to be declared in the presidential election.

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It was interpreted that Abuja is recognized as a 37th state for election purposes, and that no additional special status is connected to it for election purposes.

As a result, it urged the tribunal to dismiss the PDP and Atiku suit on that basis.

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INEC argued that “the provisions of the Constitution apply to FCT as if it were one of the states of the Federation and the use of the word ‘and’ in Section 134 (2) of the Constitution indicates nothing more than that in construing two-thirds of the states of the federation in which a candidate is required to score one-quarter of the votes cast.”

It added that by the provision of the Constitution, the FCT “has the status of a state and ought to be recognized as if were a state of the federation.”

Furthermore, INEC said the FCT, beyond being the country’s capital “has no special constitutional status over and above the other 36 states of the Federation to require a candidate in the presidential election to obtain at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT before being declared winner of the presidential election”.

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“The FCT is regarded as the 37th state of the federation and as such, a candidate needs to score 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in at least two-thirds of 37 states (to be declared as winner in the presidential election.”

 

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