RAZOR update on Obi’s case: Why we declared Tinubu President-Elect – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal to dismiss the claims by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu did not make the requirements to be declared winner of the February 18 presidential election by INEC, having failed to make 25% of votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as required by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
INEC while making its preliminary objection to Atiku Abubakar and his PDP petition, submitted that the APC candidate met all the legal requirements to be so announced as the winner of the election, adding that a candidate must not secure 25 per cent votes in the FCT to be declared winner because the FCT was not accorded any special status in the constitution as being “erroneously” portrayed by some political parties and candidates who lost the election.
The election umpire noted that “having scored at least one-quarter of the valid votes cast in 29 states, which is over and above the 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.
“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.
INEC submitted that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the federal capital territory is not a “condition precedent to the declaration and return of a candidate in the presidential election.”
“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.”
INEC argued further that FCT has the status of a state and ought to be recognized as if it were a state of the federation.
“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.”
INEC had on March 1, declared Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the presidential poll with 8,794,726 votes. According to the commission, Atiku polled 6,984,520, votes and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 6,101,533.Atiku and the PDP, while challenging the declaration of Tinubu in the petition marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, among others, claimed that the APC presidential candidate was not qualified to contest the election.
The opposition party also insisted that Tinubu was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election, and therefore asked the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s victory and withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC.