A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has given two reasons why the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission cannot stand.
Agbakoba, a constitutional lawyer, gave the reasons in an interview he granted Arise TV on Wednesday morning.
He said the declaration of the former two-term Governor of Lagos State did not meet the provisions of section 134(2) of the Nigerian constitution, which provides the conditions to be met before one is declared a winner of a presidential election and section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended that forbids candidates from contesting two positions in an election.
He said: “134 (2): It applies literally, because the rule of interpretation says if you read something and it’s so clear to you, then you don’t need to interpret it.
“The thing says you must win a quarter of the votes in two-third of 36 states AND the….
“And then what do you want to say?
“The answer is obvious.”
When he was asked by one of the presenters of the show, Reuben Abati, to offer further explanations on this, Agbakoba replied: “I have just broken it down.
“Reuben (Abati), I have broken it down.
“You want to put words in my mouth, which I won’t accept.
“It’s so simple.
“You get a quarter of the votes in two-third of 24 states.
“That’s what the law says, which is 24.
“So that’s one part of it.
“It goes on to say: ‘AND.’
“What does that mean?
“‘AND the FCT.’
“So as far as I am concerned, you must also win 25 per cent in the FCT.
“But that’s not for me to say because I would be pre-judging what’s before the Tribunal.
“So we think the Tribunal can answer this question quite easily in one hour.
“That’s my point.
“It’s not a difficult question to resolve.”
Agbakoba had before the general election written to the INEC to clarify its position on the true interpretation of the section.
The constitutional provision says: “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected, where, there being only two candidates for the election –
“He has the majority of votes cast at the election; and
“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.
“A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election-
“He has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and
“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.”
On the second point, Agbakoba said Tinubu’s running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, was nominated for two elections, which runs contrary to constitutional provisions.
He said section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended, which deals with contesting for election, can also be interpreted within a few minutes.
The section says: “Where a candidate knowingly allows himself to be nominated by more than one political party or in more than one constituency, his nomination shall be void.”
Agbakoba said: “What is more difficult in determining section 35, which says that if you are a vice presidential candidate, on a party’s platform, you couldn’t be a senatorial candidate at the same time?
“Is there any difficult thing in that?
“It’s simple English.
“That would take me two minutes to decide.
“So I still reiterate that seven days is enough time to determine the first part of the petitions.”
According to Agbakoba, if the court decided against Shettima, who was a senatorial candidate in the 2023 election, couldn’t have been a candidate in two capacities, then it would a replay of what happened in Bayelsa State in the last governorship election, where the election of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, David Lyon, was invalidated because of the failure on the part of his running mate.