Is 25% in FCT a must-have in a presidential election?
“NO”, a candidate in a presidential election does need to have the majority in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be declared a winner of an election in Nigeria, says the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).
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PEPT gave the verdict on Wednesday, September 8, 2023, while throwing out one of the many petitions filed against the winner of the February 25, 2023, Presidential Election. The election ended in controversial circumstances, InfomediaNG monitored the verdict.
What are the criteria for winning a presidential election in Nigeria?
Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that a candidate needs not less than one-quarter of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the States and the FCT.
What does this mean?
The CLAUSE, “AND” means 25 States or 24 States plus the FCT. To avoid any form of confusion, winning the FCT by a candidate, is not compulsory, provided a contestant has secured 25 states without the FCT or 24 states plus the FCT. There are 36 states in Nigeria, but the constitution treats FCT as a state (37th).
The presidential election was held on February 25, 2023, across all the 36 states and the FCT in Nigeria and on March 1, 2023, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) pronounced the candidate of APC Bola Tinubu the winner of the controversial election.
There were 18 candidates in the presidential election, but the focus was on the candidates of three major political parties: Abubakar Atiku of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP).
Tinubu scored 8,794,726 votes (the highest); Atiku got 6,984,520 votes, while Obi polled 6,101,533 votes.
Did Tinubu meet the above conditions?
YES, Tinubu scored over 25 per cent of the votes cast in 30 states, more than the 24 states constitutionally required.
25% in FCT As Bone of contention
There were several allegations of rigging across the country, especially in the stronghold of the major political parties. But the core one Labour Party and its lawyers capitalize on is the 25% in FCT.
Both PDP and LP spearheaded call for the cancellation of the election in one part while Obi, who came third, but only candidate to have in the FCT, wanted the the court to declare him the winner of the election.
Another major issue raised by the petitioners was that INEC failed to upload the results of elections in the over 170,000 polling units onto a central server (IReV) as required by law. That petition was also thrown out, but that isn’t the focus of this analysis.
What Does the 1999 Constitution Say About Winning in FCT?
Justice Haruna Tsammani, the lead judge of the five-man panel of PEPT, pronounced that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) does not hold a higher status than other states in the country.
“Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-thirds of the 36 States and FCT to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.”The Presidential Election Petition Court 2023
Section 299(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the provisions of the Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as if it were one of the States of the Federation, according to jurist.ng. It means that, the FCT should be treated as the 37th State.
What experts say
“So, Section 134 of the Constitution which provides that “not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in Each of at least two-thirds of All The States *And* the FCT” means 25 States or 24 States plus the FCT. Winning the FCT by a candidate, is not compulsory”.Human Rights Lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana.
“Some people are busy writing their own 1999 Constitutions. So if you win in all 36 states but don’t get 25% in the FCT, you won’t be declared winner? What an absurd joke. We in FCT should all have diplomatic passports and special oil block allocation o. ”Dr Joe Abah (February 28, 2023)
The issue is clear, if a candidate wins by a landslide in all the 36 states of Nigeria but cannot get 25% in the FCT, in a country of 213 million, will it make sense for the wishes of some over 200 million people to be subordinated to the wishes of 3 million people resident in the FCT?
Verdict: There is no special status for FCT. So, it is 2/3 of 37=24.6, according to section 299 of the Constitution. Therefore, it is not compulsory for a presidential candidate to win 25% in FCT.
The case of whether a Nigerian presidential candidate needs 25 per cent in FCT or not has now been settled by the court. FCT is treated as the 37th state.