A reknown lawyer, Professor Taiwo Osipitan SAN has declared that a candidate can be declared winner of a presidential election in Nigeria without necessarily scoring up to 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Osipitan who is a law Professor maintained that winning the FCT was not a requirement to emerge as the President of the country.
Section 134, subsection 2, of the 199 Constitution states: Section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says that “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 each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The failure of one candidate to fulfill this requirement will make the election on February 25 inconclusive, and INEC will have to conduct a Run Off (second election) within 21 days from the date of the declaration of the results for the first round of the election.
However, in the last Saturday’s Presidential election, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu failed to make 25 percent in Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Speaking on the issue, Professor Osipitan in a statement argued that a candidate can be declared winner of a presidential election in Nigeria without necessarily scoring up to 25 percent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory.
He said “Section 134 of the 1999 constitution has suddenly occupied the centre stage in the decision on who should be declared as the winner of the presidential election.
The pith of the controversy is whether in determining the required spread of two-thirds of the states of the Federation the FCT is to be included or excluded.
“It is being contended that a candidate who for example, scores at least twenty five percent of votes cast in twenty five or more states of the Federation and has the highest number of votes must still score not less than twenty five percent of the votes cast in the Federal capital Territory.
“I am of the opinion that FCT is part of the two third spread contemplated in section 134 of the constitution. The word and which appears immediately after the word federation and before Federal capital Territory co joins FCT with the states as to make FCT part of the two-third spread.
“Had the word in featured immediately after the word and in the section the argument of proponents of separate treatment of FCT may have been stronger. It seems to me that proponents of separate treatment of FCT are interpreting section 134 of the constitution in isolation of other relevant provisions of the same constitution.”
According to him, the Federal Capital Territory is like a state but definitely not a State, but the federal capital.
He submitted “It is not the capital of any State the way Ikeja served as capital of Lagos State when Lagos was the nation’s capital.
“FCT has no State or Deputy State Governor. The executive powers of FCT vests in Mr. President. FCT also has no separate lagislative body. National Assembly legislates for FCT. FCT is also not one of the 36 states of the federal listed in section 3(1) of the 1999 constitution.
*Unlike States that have Local Governments, FCT has six Area Councils. Finally, while each state has 3 senatorial seats FCT has only one. FCT is not superior to the States as to justify being accorded separate status. Section 299 of the constitution is designed to bring FCT to the same level with the States. The section certainly does not confer on FCT a separate and superior status as being argued by protagonists of of separate treatment of FCT.
“It is gratifying, that the non separate and non superior status of FCT has been confirmed in the case of Ibori v Ogboru where it was held that “the Federal Capital Territory is to be treated like a state it is not superior or inferior to any state of the federation.”
“In view of the above it clear, that FCT is part of the two-third spread contemplated in section 134 of the 1999 constitution. A candidate who has the highest number of votes and satisfies the twenty five percent spread in not less than two thirds of the states including FCT is entitled to be declared the winner of the election even if he is unable to score at least twenty five percent of the votes cast in FCT.”