Barristers & Solicitors
Presidential poll: Don’t politicise 25% votes requirement in FCT, Ajulo tells lawyers
Kayode Ajulo

Aconstitution Lawyer, Dr. Olukayode Ajulo, has counselled fellow lawyers in the country to be wary of politicising the issue of obtaining 25 per cent in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a requirement for a candidate to win the presidential election.

Ajulo spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja against the backdrop of some lawyers insisting that securing 25 per cent of votes in the FCT was necessary to secure victory for any presidential candidate.

NAN reports that only the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, secured 25 per cent in the FCT in the February 25 general election, while the APC candidate and President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, scored 20 per cent

This has generated a lot of comments and reactions from legal practitioners.

While some give credence to the 25 per cent, others say the FCT should be treated as a state.

Ajulo said politics had been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class.

The lawyer noted that this is a dangerous mix.

He said: “There is politics, and there is law. While they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues.”

Ajulo said such legal issues have the potential of affecting Nigeria’s nationhood and the collective development of the citizenry.

The lawyer said it was disturbing when some of his professional colleagues analysed the issue of 25 per cent requirement, saying some of the comments were uncomfortable and a gross misinterpretation.

“Some lawyers give certain legal opinions they do not even believe in because of politics. It is the common man on the streets that suffers this dangerous game of deliberate misinterpretation of our laws,” he said.

Ajulo said the deliberate misinterpretation by some lawyers makes a mockery of the nation’s constitution and the legal profession, noting that such misinterpretation could turn to hunt its makers.

The lawyer averred that it is imperative to set the record straight amidst the brouhaha surrounding the interpretation of Section 134(2) of the Constitution and the multifarious explanations by public commentators and senior lawyers.

He added that there is the need to state the true position of the law without infusing emotion and political sentiments.

“There are two opposing sides in the arguments. There are those who argue that for a candidate to be declared winner, he must get 25 per cent of the votes cast in FCT, asides meeting other constitutional criteria.

“Also, there are those who contend that a candidate needs not poll 25 per cent of the votes cast in FCT to be declared winner, so far as he meets other constitutional requirements.

“Candidate for an election to the office of the President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election.

“First, he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and, secondly, 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 FCT,” Ajulo said.

According to him, even though the FCT is not a state, the Constitution has clothed it with the toga of a state and all the powers of a governor in a state is vested in the Minister of the FCT.

The lawyer explained that while the Houses of Assembly in the 36 states of the federation legislate for each state, the National Assembly makes laws for the FCT.

He also said while the states have their local government areas, the FCT also has area councils.

Ajulo said: “A reasonable, just and sensible interpretation of Section 134(2) would then be that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT is like scoring 25 per cent in any other state of the federation.”