Nigerian legal expert, Femi Falana has stated that winning the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is not a constitutional requirement for a presidential candidate to be declared winner of the February 25, 2023 poll.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, made this statement during a recent TV interview, emphasising that a presidential candidate only needs to meet the constitutional requirement of obtaining two-thirds of the majority of states in the country, which does not include winning the FCT.
Falana pointed out that the FCT is recognised as a state in Section 299 of the Constitution. He also mentioned concerns that some candidates may not meet the constitutional requirements of obtaining 25% of votes in 24 states and at least two-thirds of all states, as well as having the majority of lawful votes nationwide.
Falana’s comments come after Olisa Agbakoba, a former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to clarify its position on Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution, which appears to be ambiguous.
Agbakoba queried whether the 24 states incorporate the FCT or not but the electoral umpire has not made any comment on the matter.
Mike Igini, former resident electoral commissioner (REC) of Akwa Ibom state quoting section 134 sub-section 2b of the constitution averred that no presidential candidate shall be declared that a winner cannot be announced without having 25% spread in 24 states and 25% in Abuja.
Falana, however, said Section 299 of the Constitution already recognised the FCT as a state and therefore a presidential candidate does not necessarily need to win the seat of Nigeria’s political power to be declared winner of an election.
He stressed that once a candidate gets 25% of votes in 24 states and has a majority of the total votes, he or she should be declared winner by the electoral body.
“The concern that has arisen is that looking at the campaigns going on, people are wondering whether any candidate will win those stringent constitutional requirements: 25% and at least two-third of the state and of course majority of lawful votes all over the country,” Falana added.
Section 134 of the constitution states that a candidate will be declared winner of a presidential election if he has “(a) he has the majority 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.
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