BY Samuel Akpan
President Bola Tinubu has asked the election tribunal to dismiss the petition seeking to nullify his election on the grounds that he did not secure 25% of lawful votes cast in the federal capital territory (FCT).
Tinubu, who contested the February 28 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared the winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Tinubu 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 at least 25 percent of votes cast in the FCT.
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”.
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.
’25 PERCENT NOT REQUIRED BY LAW’
Tinubu’s counsel said 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.”