AGBAKOBA: PROVISION FOR RUNOFF CONFUSING

    Dr Olisa Agbakoba ( SAN)

    Olisa Agbakoba, a senior lawyer, was the first to point out this tricky constitutional provision in a letter he wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) early in January 2023.

    I am a little worried,” he said.

    “I reviewed section 134 carefully, specifically, subsections 134 (1) (b) and (2) (b), and wondered if “two-thirds of all the States in the federation and the federal capital territory, Abuja” means either of the following:

    “a) that a presidential candidate must score 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 which means 24 states, the 24 States will include the federal capital territory Abuja as a “state”, or

    “b) that a presidential candidate must score 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 which means 24 states and in addition to meeting the one-quarter requirement in 24 states, a candidate must also win one-quarter of the votes cast in the federal capital territory, Abuja.

    “In this sense, a presidential candidate must have one-quarter of the votes cast in the federal capital territory, Abuja, in addition to scoring not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in 24 States of the Federation, to be duly elected.”

    The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) added that there are three major questions arising from his interpretation.

    He said: “(1) Is the requirement that a presidential candidate must score not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of the 36 States of the Federation; does this mean that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is incorporated in the 24 States?

    “(2) Is the requirement that a presidential candidate must score not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of the 36 States of the Federation; does it mean that the presidential candidate must also score not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja?

    “(3) Can a candidate that scored not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in 36 States of the Federation but fails to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the election at the Federal Capital Territory, be duly elected as President of Nigeria?

    “To be honest, I am not quite sure of the right answers to my questions. I just thought to bring this to your attention as something you might wish to clarify to the public.”

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