A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), has maintained that before a candidate can be declared winner in a presidential election, that candidate must score 25 per cent of the votes cast in the election in 2/3 of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
This is coming as a constitutional lawyer, Prof. Mike Ozekhome (INEC), faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for going ahead to declare Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the President-elect, having not scored the required 25 per cent in the FCT.Aondoakaa, who stated this while appearing as a guest on ARISE NEWS Channel programme, maintained that this requirement had been the law and has not changed since the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in 2008.
There have been mixed reactions by lawyers on the issue since Wednesday when Tinubu was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 6,984,520 votes, while Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party scored 6,101,533 votes.
While Tinubu and Atiku won 12 states each, Obi won 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while Kwankwaso defeated the three only in Kano State.Of the three leading presidential candidates, only Obi won the FCT, which is believed to be a very strong constitutional requirement to become the President of Nigeria.
Obi scored 281,987 votes or 62 per cent of the total votes cast in the FCT, while Tinubu scored 90,902 or 20 per cent.On his part, Atiku scored 73,743 votes, or 16 per cent of the total votesWhile the 1999 Constitution states that a presidential candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election, it further added that the candidate must also secure not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the FCT.Though Tinubu scored the highest number of votes cast at the election and also polled at least 25 per cent of the valid votes in at least 24 states in line with the Constitution, the former Lagos State governor did not secure 25 per cent in the FCT.
Specifically, Section 134 (2) states: “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 than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
But while noting that the matter is already in court and, as such, he would not dwell deeply on it, the former AGF recalled that the Supreme Court had in 2008 in a suit involving the current President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the then President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, resolved the issue of the 25 per cent in 2/3 of the states of the federation and the FCT.
It’s a very difficult situation, but the matter has been interpreted before, around 2008, in a matter involving the current President,” he said, adding that “the pronouncement then was that the ‘and’ is used conjunctively; that was the interpretation then.“Maybe the Supreme Court may have another look since it was a long time ago, but as of now, that is the interpretation.“The interpretation was that the states and the Federal Capital Territory shall be construed conjunctively. In order words, you must get 25 per cent in 2/3 and 25 per cent in the FCT if you go by the interpretation of the Supreme Court in 2008.
But I know the Supreme Court has a right to depart from his previous decisions if the justices of the case demand so.“I don’t know if confronted with a similar situation they will follow their own decision or depart from it,” he added.