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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that winning 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja is not a condition for the declaration of a candidate as the winner in the presidential election.
INEC made the clarification in a statement filed by its lawyers before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) over the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
Responding to a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, INEC submitted that what the constitution requires is 2/3 of votes in at least 24 states of the federation plus a majority of the total votes.
Based on this, the electoral umpire maintained that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was correctly declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election in Nigeria having satisfied all the constitutional requirements.
INEC submitted that Tinubu was declared the winner because he “scored 25 percent of the valid votes cast in 29 states of the federation.”
It added: “Having scored at least one-quarter of the valid votes cast in 29 states, which is over and above the 24 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.
“The first respondent (INEC) denies that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory is a condition precedent to the declaration and return of a candidate in the presidential election.”
FCT 25 Percent
INEC clarified that the constitution does not confer a special status on the FCT that must be applied for a winner to be declared in the presidential election.
It interpreted that for the sake of election, Abuja is regarded as a 37th state, and beyond that, no other special status is attached to it for election.
It, therefore, urged the tribunal to disregard the petition by PDP and Atiku on that ground.
INEC argued that “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.”
It added that by the provision of the Constitution, the FCT “has the status of a state and ought to be recognized as if were a state of the federation.”
Furthermore, INEC said the FCT, beyond being the country’s capital “has no special constitutional status over and above the other 36 states of the Federation to require a candidate in the presidential election to obtain at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT before being declared winner of the presidential election”.
“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.”