Elections

Tinubu Validly Declared President-Elect – INEC Clears Air

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 its response to petitions 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 presidential poll, the electoral commission argued 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.

INEC maintained that Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was validly declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election, having satisfied all the constitutional requirements and having “scored 25 percent of the valid votes cast in 29 states of the federation.

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“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 percent 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 percent 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 percent) of the valid votes cast in 29 states which are beyond the constitutional threshold for such declaration.

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“The first respondent (INEC) denies that scoring 25 percent 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”, the Commission argued.

INEC further 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.

The Commission, therefore, urged the tribunal to disregard the petition by PDP and Atiku on that ground.

“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 said, adding that by the provision of the Constitution, the FCT “has the status of a state and ought to be recognised as if were a state of the federation.”

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It further argued that the FCT, beyond being a Federal Capital Territory (FCT), “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 percent 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 percent of the valid votes cast in at least two-thirds of 37 states (to be declared as winner in the presidential election.”

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