X-Raying The Provision Of Section 134 Of The 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria (As Amended) – By Kingsley Idahosa Esq

X-RAYING THE PROVISION OF SECTION 134 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (AS AMENDED) My humble opinion.

 

Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provide thus:

(1) A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have be been duly elected, where, there being only two candidates for the election –

(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.

(2) 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.

(3) In a default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection (2) of this section their shall be a second election in accordance with subsection (4) of this section at which the only candidate shall be –

(a) the candidate who scored the highest number of votes at any election held in accordance with the said subsection (2) of this section; and

(b) one among the remaining candidates who has a majority of votes in the highest number of States, so however that where there are more than one candidate with majority of votes in the highest number of States, the candidate among them with the highest total of votes cast at the election shall be the second candidate for the election.

(4) In default of a candidate duly elected under the foregoing subsections, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall within seven days of the result of the election held under the said subsections, arrange for an election between the two candidates and a candidate at such election shall be deemed elected to the office of President if –

(a) he has a 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

(5) In default of a candidate duly elected under subsection (4) of this section, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall, within seven days of the result of the election held under the aforesaid subsection (4), arrange for another election between the two candidates to which the subsection relates and a candidate at such election shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of President, if he has a majority of the votes cast at the election.

The provision of Section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) is unambiguous, in other words very clear.

It is settled law that where a provision of a Statute is clear or unambiguous, it must be given their natural, ordinary everyday meaning.

The provision of Section 134 is express. It mentioned “…the votes cast at the election in each of at least ⅔ (two-thirds of all the States in the Federation “and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” meaning “plus” or “including” the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Latin term that easily calls to hand in aid is the Expressio unius est exclusio alterius principle or rule. It means “the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other not mentioned”. The section in question specifically and deliberately used the word “and the FCT, Abuja” to remove the imputation of these unwarranted arguments designed to erode the Federal Capital Territory of its special status and that is certainly not the intendment of the draftsmen.

Furthermore, on the meaning and the use of the word “and” the Supreme Court in the case of Ogunyade v. Oshunkeye & Anor (2007) 15 NWLR (PT. 1057) page 218; (2007) LPELR-2355 (SC) held thus:

“In grammar or syntax, a sentence does not end with the word “and”. It is a conjunction playing the role in grammatical construction of connecting words or phrases expressing the idea that the latter is to be added to or taken along with the first. In its conjunctive sense, the word is used to conjoin words, clauses or sentences expressing the relation of addition or connection and signifying that something is to follow in addition to that which proceeds and its use implies that the connected elements must be grammatically co-ordinate as where the elements proceeding and succeeding the use of the words refer to the same subject mailer. See Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, at page 86. While the co-ordinating conjunction can begin a sentence in certain instances, it function or role in the grammar of the amended statement of claim is to add more thing or things to the reliefs sought” Per Niki Tobi, J.S.C. (Pp.20-21. Paras.G-D)

More so, another Latin term worthy of mention here is the “Generalia specialibus non derogant” which literally means “things general do not derogate from things special”.

This common law principle is used for construing legislation which holds that a syntactical presumption may be made that where there is a conflict between a general and a specific provision, the specific provision will prevail over the general provision and in the instance case Section 299 been the general provision to give way to the provision of Section 134.

The point I am driving at is that, the Section 299 (a general provision) of the Constitution goes to no issue in the face of the specific provision of Section 134 of the same Constitution under the Generalia specialibus non derogant principle or rule.

Finally, the last Latin term that is of note also is the “Ejusdem Generis rule”. In simple terms, it says “if the legislature intended general words to be used in unrestricted sense, it would not have bothered to use particular words at all”. Put differently, if the Constitution intended to elevate the provision of Section 299 to the status being arogated to it over Section 134, it won’t have bothered about Section 134.

In summary, in order to be successfully elected the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the candidate must of necessity SCORE 25% of the votes cast in the FCT and without which he/she cannot be declared winner.

I beg to submit.

I rest my case.

Kingsley Idahosa
Partner
Zacks Garuba & Co.,
Abuja.