By Festus Ogun
A joint reading of Sections 134(2) & 299 of the 1999 Constitution leads me to the irresistible conclusion that APC’s failure to clinch 25% of the total vote cast in FCT will not affect the declaration of their candidate as President since they’ve scored over 25% in 2/3 of the other States of the Federation.
As opposed to my earlier view, I honestly feel that insisting on 25% votes cast in the FCT when you’ve got more than 25% in over 2/3 of other states will defeat the overall intention of the drafters of the Constitution and will certainly lead to absurdity. Let me explain better.
Section 134(2) provides that a Presidential candidate will only be deemed duly elected where he secures the highest number of the total votes cast in the entire federation, and secures at least 25% percent of the votes cast in two-third of all the States of the federation and the FCT.
The operative word there is “and”. In Ogunyade v Oshunkeye (2007), the Supreme Court held that the word “and” is a conjunction that connects words or phrases, expressing the idea that the latter is to be added to or taken along with the first. In my respectful view, therefore what is required is for the candidate with the highest number of votes cast to clinch 25% votes in at least 2/3 of the 36 states and FCT (37). In that wise, I sincerely believe that with or without the FCT, once the 2/3 votes is gotten from the “37 states”, APC is home and dry.
Instructively, Section 299 of the Constitution provides that the provisions of the constitution shall be read as if the FCT were a State of the Federation. This is why Section 134(2) must not be read in isolation; it must be read alongside Section 299.
Tall and short, scoring 25% of the votes in FCT, in my respectful view, may not be a compulsory requirement to deem a candidate as duly elected in light of the fact that FCT is considered a “state” and the 25% requirement is met in 2/3 the rest of the “states” of the Federation.