Sundays with LegalJoe: What is Tinubu’s hope at Election Tribunal?

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In a country as ours, with heterogenous population, the drafters of our constitution thought that for a person to be the president of such country, he must be voted into office by various communities of different persons in different part of the country and not just a particular segment of people of the country.

It goes to show that the president is in facts, through the votes of the various people in all localities, wanted by the general public and not just a particular set of people in a defined and sectionalized area of the country, despite having the large population to push such candidate into the office.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear and unambiguous as to this position. Under the extant laws of Nigeria, to be constitutionally elected into the office of President, certain requirements must be fulfilled.

Since the conclusion of the much anticipated 2023 Nigerian presidential election, which produced Bola Tinubu as the president elect, there have been controversies around the conduct of the election. The Labour party and its candidate, Peter Obi have approached the election tribunal asking it to disqualify the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu, on various grounds.

On one ground the aggrieved opposition contended whether or not the presidential elect met the conditions spelt out in the Constitution, before being declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The conditions to be fulfilled before a president is declared one in the Nigerian constitution are stated in Section 134(1) of the 1999 CFRN which holds thus; “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election-
(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and
(b) he has not less then one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

Given the position above, that a candidate has the highest votes in an election is not enough to be deemed to have won the election.

In what part of the country, which state, which people, which community, voted for such candidate is what the law is about, reason why an appedage has come to place, which is, that such candidate must show that the votes he amassed were not less than one-quarter(1/4) of the votes cast in each of atleast two-third(2/3) of all the states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The above section could be broken down into this list;

  1. highest votes
  2. not less than 1/4 of votes in each states
  3. that the 1/4 of votes in each states must be gotten from atleast 2/3 of all states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Put simply, the highest votes that a candidate must have had in a Presidential election must have been gathered together from atleast 2/3 of all the states AND the FCT.

Let me quickly make it abundantly clear that, after getting atleast one-quarter of the votes in atleast two-third of each states of the Federation, the candidate must also show that he has not less than one-quarter of the votes in the FCT. The operative word contained under Section 134(2)(a) and Section 134(2)(b) is ‘AND’.

Invoking the decision of the courts in OGUNYADE v OSHUNKEYE(2007), the supreme court held that the word ‘AND’ is a conjunction that connects words or phrases, expressing the idea that the latter is to be added to or taken along with the first.

Given the above decision, it suffices to state that the latter wordings of Section 134(2)(b) which is “and the Federal Capital Territory” is another phrase entirely which will only be added to the former wordings of Section 134(2)(b) to give an expression to the matter in question.

If that is the case, it only means that a candidate for the office of the president will be deemed elected after clinching 1/4 of votes from atleast 2/3 of each states and also 1/4 of votes from the Federal Capital Territory.

Many may want to contend the literal wordings of Section 134(2)(b) with the wordings of Section 299. CFRN which instructively holds that; “The provsions of this constitution shall apply to the the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the state of the Federation.”

Now, assuming and conceding the fact that the FCT is one of the states which Section 134(2)(b), 1999 CFRN is about, it is still without doubt and very clear that Section 134(2)(b) has placed emphasis on the 1/4 of votes from the FCT.

If in the first place, it didnt so much regards the FCT, it would not have stated it there expressly,it may go ahead to state “and in Osun(or any other state).”

This takes us back to the first and second paragraph of this paper work where it had been stated that the constitution is really bothered about where(what states) and how a candidate for the office of the President has amassed his votes.

It cannot be the mere intentions of the drafters of the constitution, that a candidate to the office of the President may or may not get votes from the Federal Capital Territory of the Country, a territory that houses the office of the President.

The above, alone, speaks volume of why a candidate must get at least 1/4 of the votes in the FCT.

As I conclude, it should be at the very front of our minds that by virtue of Section 134(3), 1999 CFRN: “In default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection 2 of Section 134, 1999 CFRN, there shall be a second election in accordance with subsection 4 of Section 134, 1999 CFRN”

This is only impari-materia with Section 134(2), 1999, CFRN where it holds that one would only be deemed duly elected after fulfiling the requirements cotained under Section134(2)(a)&(b).

LEGELJOE who is also JOSEPH ALIU is a LAW undergraduate, Oou Chapter and can be reached via; 09085773212,09131704196,

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