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Court dismisses LP/Peter Obi’s 25% FCT votes claim, says Abuja like other states



The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has rejected the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and Peter Obi against President Bola Tinubu. Their claim was based on the notion that winning 25% of the votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, was essential to secure victory in the presidential election.

In a decisive ruling, the court declared that Abuja should be treated just like any other state in this regard, emphasizing that residents of the FCT do not possess any special privileges, as contended by the petitioners.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, the lead judge of the 5-member panel, announced this judgment during a session of the Presidential Election Petition court on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, held at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

According to Justice Tsammani, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in Section 134 (1) and (2) clearly outlines the requirements for a presidential candidate to be declared the duly elected President of Nigeria. To meet this constitutional requirement, a presidential candidate must secure a majority of votes cast in the election, in cases where two or more candidates are in contention, and also obtain at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the 36 States and the FCT.

The tribunal firmly dismissed the petitioners’ interpretation of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution as “entirely baseless, if not outrightly absurd.”

Furthermore, the tribunal distinguished between the interpretation of statutes and the Constitution, pointing out that the preamble of the 1999 Constitution underscores the principle that all citizens are equal, with no one being superior or inferior to another, even in the context of voting rights.

Futile and narrow interpretation of constitution

Tsammani pointed out that the petitioners went on a futile and narrow interpretation of Section 134 of the Constitution when they assumed that Abuja voters have more value to the extent of vetoing the votes of other voters in other states.

Explaining the word “and” as used in Section 134, the tribunal held that the FCT shall be seen “as if it were one of the states of the federation”, adding that the FCT shall be taken into the calculation of the two-thirds of the states of the federation as if it were the 37 states.

Citing Section 299 of the Constitution, the tribunal held that, “FCT is to be treated like any other state ” and it is not superior or inferior to other states, adding that if the framers of the Constitution had something different they would have gone ahead to make it a requirement.