A renowned constitution lawyer, Dr Olukayode Ajulo, has counselled lawyers in the country to be wary of politicising the issue of obtaining 25 per cent in FCT as a requirement to win the Presidential election.
Ajulo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja against the backdrop of some lawyers insisting that securing 25 per cent of votes in FCT was necessary to secure victory for any presidential candidate.
NAN reports that only Peter Obi, the candidate of Labour Party secured 25 per cent in FCT in the Feb. 25 General Elections, while the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, scored 20 per cent
This has generated a lot of comments and reactions from legal practitioners, while some are giving credence to the 25 per cent, others said the FCT should be treated as a state.
Ajulo, however, said politics had been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class, adding that it was a dangerous mix.
Ajulo said “there is politics, and there is law and while they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues.”
He said such legal issues had the potential of affecting the nationhood of the country and the collective development of her citizens.
He said, it was disturbing when some of his professional colleagues analysed issues 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.”
Ajulo said the deliberate misinterpretation of some lawyers was a mockery of the nation’s constitution and the legal profession, adding that such had a way of turning to hunt its makers.
He said that it was 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 further said that there was need to state the true position of the law, devoid of emotion and political sentiments.
“There are two opposing sides in the arguments, 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.”
He said, “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
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.
He said, while the Houses of Assembly of the 36 States of the Federation legislate for each State respectively, the National Assembly makes laws for the FCT.
He further said that while the states had their respective Local Government Areas, the FCT also has Area Councils.
The constitutional lawyer 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.”