25% FCT votes: PDP witness says Atiku, Tinubu don’t merit to be President

A PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) witness has told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that the party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his counterpart in the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Bola Tinubu, failed to meet the criteria to be declared President following the February 25 presidential poll.

The witness, Mohammed Babaji Madaki, who is also the chairman of the PDP in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), stated that Atiku and Tinubu did not get up to 25 per cent of total votes cast in the FCT.

During cross-examination by counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mohammed Aliyu, at the resumed hearing of the petitions on Monday, June 5, the witness affirmed that receiving 25 per cent of total votes cast in the FCT was a prerequisite for a candidate to be declared President.


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When asked if his statement was merely his opinion, the witness clarified that it was based on constitutional provisions.

Responding to questions regarding whether his candidate, Atiku, had attained the required result in the FCT, the witness unequivocally stated, “My candidate did not score 25 per cent of votes in the FCT, according to the purported result published by INEC.”

When pressed further by Tinubu’s counsel, Akin Olujimi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the insisted that despite not being a lawyer or mathematician, his assertion was grounded in the law.

Further cross examined by counsel to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi, (SAN), the witness, acknowledged that the FCT held equal significance to any other state in the country.

Also, another PDP witness told the court that the February 25 presidential election was marred by violence at collation centres in Rivers State.

The witness, Abiye Sekibo, a former minister, who served as the PDP state collation officer for Rivers State, said that he received reports of violence in Obiakpor, Ahoada East, and Ahoada West, but was prevented from reaching the party’s agents in Obiakpor.

He stated that his visits to 20 polling units in Okrika and communication with party agents from various polling units revealed that they were unable to upload results using the BVAS system.

During cross-examination by Tinubu’s counsel, Olujimi, Sekibo admitted that he did not collect the names of the INEC officials at the polling units.

INEC had declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

According to INEC, Tinubu secured 8,794,726 votes to come first, Abubakar finished second with 6,984,520, while Obi polled 6,101,533 to come third.

The PDP and LP candidates rejected the result and approached the tribunal with separate petitions to challenge Tinubu’s victory.

They alleged that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and that he failed to secure the majority of lawful votes cast at the poll.

They are also contesting that Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, had a double nomination contrary to the Electoral Act.

Both candidates, in their separate petitions, prayed the tribunal to nullify Tinubu’s election because he didn’t obtain 25 per cent of votes in the FCT.

However, lawyers have expressed different opinions on the matter.

According to a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ekiti State, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN), the requirement does not necessitate winning the presidential election in the FCT in addition to securing two-thirds of the votes in the 36 states.

“If the intention had been to make securing 25 per cent in the FCT a distinct condition precedent, it would have been so distinctly and separately stated in the Constitution. The way it is now, all a candidate needs to do is to secure 25 per cent in two-thirds of the 37 units. Once that is achieved, there is a valid election,” he said.

Similarly, a human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), had argued that a candidate could win a presidential election without necessarily obtaining 25 per cent of the votes in the FCT.

Falana referred to Section 299 of the Constitution, which states that the FCT should be treated as a state, implying that the requirement for 25 per cent of votes in two-thirds of the states includes the FCT as the 37th unit.

But a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, argued that 25 per cent in the FCT, was a constitutional requirement to be declared President in Nigeria.

Speaking on Arise Television in April, Agbakoba listed the two reasons why the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election may have a problem.

He pointed to Section 134 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides the conditions to be met before one is declared a winner of a presidential election and Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), which forbids candidates from contesting two positions in an election.

He explained that the two positions are unambiguous and do not require lengthy time or argument for the Tribunal to decide.

“Section 134 (2); it applies literally, because the rule of interpretation says if you read something and it’s so clear to you, then you don’t need to interpret it.

“The thing says you must win a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of 36 states and the… And then what do you want to say? The answer is obvious.”

When pressed by the presenter to break it down, he said, “I have just broken it down. I have broken it down. You want to put words in my mouth, which I won’t accept.

“It’s so simple, you get a quarter of the votes in of 24 states. That’s what the law says, which is 24. So that’s one part of it.

“It goes on to say, ‘and’. What does that mean? ‘And’ the FCT’. So as far as I am concerned, you must also win 25 per cent in the FCT.

“But that’s not for me to say because I would be pre-judging what’s before the tribunal.

“So we think the tribunal can answer this question quite easily in one hour. That’s my point. Quite easily, it’s not a difficult question to resolve,” he said.

Agbakoba had, before the general elections, written to INEC to clarify its position on the true interpretation of the section.

You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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