In order to be declared the winner of a presidential election, a candidate must receive less than 25% of the votes cast in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which has informed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).
This is due to the electoral umpire’s claim that neither the Election Act nor its regulations made provision for the electronic collation, transmission, and uploading of results as a prerequisite to the declaration of the victor of the February 25 presidential election.
As a result, it stated that Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, was declared the winner of the election after a hand count of all legal ballots cast.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s petition disputing the announcement of Tinubu as the victor of the election were the targets of the commission’s notice of preliminary objection, which was filed by its lead counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN).
Because the FCT is not given any unique status in the Nigerian constitution, contrary to what some political parties and candidates who lost the February 25 election “erroneously” claimed, INEC urged the tribunal to reject the case filed by Atiku and his party.
“The provisions of the Constitution apply to the FCT as if it were one of the states of the Federation, and the word “and” in Section 134(2) two-thirds of the federation’s states, each of which requires a candidate to receive a quarter of the vote.
Beyond serving as the nation’s capital, it was further stated that the FCT “has no special constitutional status over and above the other 36 states of the Federation to require a candidate in the presidential election to obtain at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT before being declared the presidential election winner.
A candidate must receive 25% of the valid votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 37 states (the FCT is recognized as the 37th state of the federation) in order to be proclaimed the winner of the presidential election.
It claimed that the FCT “had the status of a state and ought to be recognized as it were a state of the federation” in accordance with a provision of the Constitution.
Atiku and his party, according to INEC, did not fulfill the requirements set forth in the constitution to be named the election’s victor.
According to INEC, Tinubu, the APC candidate, complied with all legal conditions to be declared the election’s victor.
The commission also informed the tribunal that the presidential election on February 25 was one of the best elections held since democracy was restored in 1999 because it was “conducted with the help of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System(BVAS) device which ensured that only registered and verified voters were accredited and voted at the election.”
In the petition CA/PEPC/05/2023, Atiku and the PDP contested Tinubu’s victory, arguing that the APC candidate was not legitimately elected by the majority of valid votes cast and was unable to run for office at the time of the election.
The PDP candidate requested that the tribunal declare Tinubu’s victory invalid and revoke the certificate of return that had been granted to him.
However, INEC objected, stating that the results “reflected the will of the people” and that the first petitioner, Atiku, came in second to Tinubu, who received a total of 8, 794, 726 votes, although not win the poll overall. Tinubu lost his home state of Lagos, while Atiku won his native Adamawa.
INEC argued that “there is nowhere it is mandated to exclusively employ only electronic means in collating or transmitting of election results” while pleading with the tribunal to reject the opposition PDP’s and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s appeal challenging the results of the elections.
The Federal High Court’s Abuja division’s decision in Labour Party v. INEC, which said that “It is solely mandated to collate and transfer election results and the number of accredited voters in a mode or manner considered fit by it,” was the one upon which it based its decision.
Both the PDP and Atiku asserted that they did not fulfill the standards set down in the constitution to be recognized as the election’s victor on February 25.
The first petitioner (Atiku), according to the statement, “failed to score, at least, one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and as such could not have been declared the victor.”
INEC continued: “The election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and was not marred by any corrupt activities, contrary to the petitioners’ assertion.”
It further stated that by deploying BVAS devices for voter accreditation and transmitting the accreditation data to its servers in accordance with sections 47(2) and (3); 60(1), (2), & (5); 64(4)(a)&(b); (5), (6)&(8); 71 and 73 of the Electoral Act, it fully complied with the Act’s recommendations.
It refuted the petitioners’ claims that at any point before data transmission to the e-transmission system, it disconnected or ordered that any BVAS device be unplugged from the internet.
In addition, INEC refuted claims made by Atiku and the PDP that Tinubu was declared the winner prematurely based on the margin of victory.
As a result, “the first petitioner (Atiku) could not have been proclaimed the winner since he did not receive at least one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
The election was conducted in considerable compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and was not tainted by any corruption, INEC said in response to the petitioners’ argument.
According to the commission, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect, legitimately won the election and was eligible to run at the time of the voting.
The return of the second respondent as the victor of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, is legitimate, valid, and constitutional since he or she complied with the criteria of Section 134 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
The petitioners failed to receive at least two-thirds of the legal votes cast in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, nor did they receive a majority of the legal votes cast in the election. As a result, the first petitioner (Atiku) is not eligible to be declared the winner of the recently held presidential election on 25th February 2023.”