Nullifying my victory over 25% votes in Abuja uncalled for, Tinubu tells court

President Bola Tinubu has said it is uncalled for to nullify his victory in the last presidential election because he failed to secure 25 per cent of the lawful votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja…CONTINUE READING

He argued that the FCT shares the same status as every other state in Nigeria.

Tinubu argued against the backdrop of Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi’s suit urging the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to invalidate the 25 February presidential election.

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Obi came third in the race, but he has prayed the court to either declare him president or order a fresh poll based on different grounds, including Tinubu’s failure to secure 25 per cent votes in Abuja in the election.

The Nigerian constitution requires the victorious presidential candidate not only to win the majority of lawful votes but also to score 25 per cent of the votes in at least two-thirds of the number of states and the FCT.

But Obi had argued in his petition challenging Tinubu’s victory that the two-thirds must include the FCT for a candidate to be validly declared the winner.

However, in his final written address dated 14 July, Tinubu’s lead lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, urged the five-member panel of the court chaired by Haruna Tsammani to dismiss Mr Obi’s suit for lacking in merit.

Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the FCT is like the 37th state of the country and cannot be conferred a special status.

Referencing Section 134(2)(b) of the Nigerian constitution, which talks about scoring 25 per cent votes in two-thirds of the states of Nigeria and the FCT, Mr Olanipekun drew the court’s attention 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.”

He urged the court to interpret the said provision conjunctively as “any other interpretation different from this will lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature.”

“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.”

The lawyer further contended that Obi’s “remote” argument that Mr Tinubu’s victory should be nullified on account of not scoring 25 per cent or one-quarter of the votes recorded in the FCT lacks legal backing as the use of “and” in the constitution is conjunctive and not disjunctive.

The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is also challenging the presidential election’s outcome.

Atiku raised similar issues bordering on the inability of the Nigeria electoral commission, INEC, failure to electronically transmit polling units’ results of the election to its Results Viewing Portal.

While Tinubu polled 8,794,721 votes, Atiku scored 6,984,520, and Obi garnered 6,101,533 votes.

During the trial, Obi called 13 witnesses and tendered tons of electoral documents as evidence.

Also, during the three-week hearing of the case, Obi challenged the authenticity of Tinubu’s academic records and alleged drug trafficking in the US, amongst other issues.

But Olanipekun has described the witnesses’ testimonies as “frivolous, bogus and based on hearsay.”

Obi’s major grouse with the poll was that the results of the Presidential election were not uploaded on the INEC Results Viewing portal on the day of the election.

But in his argument, Olanipekun said section 60 of the Electoral Act gives INEC the prerogative to prescribe the mode of transfer of results, whether electronically or manually.

Countering Obi’s suit, Olanipekun said the Labour Party candidate “was still a member of the PDP as of 24 May 2022 and was a presidential aspirant of the party.”

He pointed out that the Electoral Act provides that an aspirant for elective office must be a political party member 30 days before the conduct of the primary election.

Olanipekun said Obi was not a member of the Labour Party at the time of the party’s primary election on 30 May 2022…CONTINUE READING

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