President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has warned members of the presidential elections tribunal that removing him as president for not getting 25% of votes in the FCT could lead to a breakdown of law and order in Nigeria.
Tinubu in his submission through his lawyers led by Olanipekun at the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal posited that any other interpretation different from the one recognizing Tinubu as haven won the election will lead to absurdity, chaos and anarchy
The arguments of Olanipekun are contained in the final address to the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, dated July 14, written against the petitions of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar
Tinubu also told PREPEC that the two petitions filed by the two candidates seeking the nullification of his victory at the February 25, presidential election are not only novel but not familiar with the country’s electoral laws.
The five-member panel had on July 5, 2023, given the respondents in the two separate petitions 10 days to file their written address, while the petitioners were given seven days to reply.
The panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani gave the order shortly after, Tinubu, Shettima and the All Progressive Congress (APC) closed their defence in the two petitions as it would be recalled that the Independent National Eelctoral Commission had closed its case a day earlier.
Both Atiku and Obi, alongside their respective parties, had dragged INEC before the PREPEC for declaring Tinubu and the APC winner of the presidential election.
Amongst the reliefs they seek is the nullification of Tinubu’s election on the grounds that INEC did not substantially comply with the guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the 2023 general elections and relevant electoral laws.
INEC’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had on March 1, returned Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 elections with 8,794,726 votes while Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of were said to have scored 6,984,520 votes and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.
Besides faulting the figures which they claimed were incorrect because the collation of results was still ongoing when Mahmood returned Tinubu as the winner, the petitioners also claimed that Tinubu cannot be said to have won the election having not scored 25% of the lawful votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, Tinubu in his submission through his lawyers led by Olanipekun said; “Any other interpretation different from this will lead to absurdity, chaos, anarchy and alteration of the very intention of the legislature.”
The lawyers were specifically addressing a section of the Nigerian Constitution that said a presidential candidate must score 25 per cent of votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, or Abuja.
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They also said Mr Tinubu would still have won the election even if he didn’t score anything in Abuja and one other state, although this was not the argument of petitions, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of Labour Party.
“Even if there was no election in one State (including the FCT), or even if the election of a State/States (including the FCT) is/are voided, the entire election cannot be voided or canceled.
“In concluding our arguments on this issue, we urge the court to hold that any election where the electorate exercise their plebiscite, there is neither a ‘royal’ ballot nor ‘royal’ voter; and that residents of the FCT do not have any special voting right over residents of any other State of the federation, in a manner similar to the concepts of preferential shareholding in Company Law.
“We urge this court to resolve this issue against the petitioners and in favour of the respondent,” the lawyers said.