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25% in FCT Not Constitutional Requirement For Presidential Candidate – Femi Falana

Femi Falana, a prominent Nigerian and  legal practitioner, has said a candidate can be declared winner of a presidential election in Nigeria without necessarily scoring up to 25 per cent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory.

“Section 299 of the Constitution said the FCT shall be treated like a state,” Mr Falana told Peoples Gazette on Tuesday afternoon. “Therefore, the constitutional requirements for 25 per cent of votes in two-thirds state and the FCT only means that the FCT be added to the 36 states to arrive at 37 states.”

Consequently, Mr Falana said a presidential candidate who has scored at least 25 per cent of votes cast in 25 states is eligible to be declared president-elect.

“Two-thirds of 36 states would give you 24 states and then one more state to take you to 25 states,” the lawyer said. “So it is 25 states from 37 states. Not 24 states and then a mandatory 25 per cent of votes in the FCT itself.”

Mr Falana’s interpretation comes as Nigerians are struggling to interpret Section 133 (1) (b) of the Nigerian Constitution, which said a candidate can only be declared president if “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.”

While Mr Falana said the section was only talking about scoring 25 per cent in two-thirds of the nation’s 37 federating units, i.e.: with FCT, opposition members are arguing the section simply meant that a candidate must score 25 per cent in the FCT itself, and FCT should not be added to the 36 traditional states.

Section 299 of the Constitution said: “The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation.” But Mike Igini, a former INEC chief, said the Constitution separated FCT entirely in the instance under discussion.

In an interview, Mr Igini said a candidate must score 25 per cent in Abuja to be declared the winner of a presidential election.

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