Pelumi Olajengbesi, a human rights attorney in Abuja, has stated that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should be permitted to fully enjoy the benefits of a state status and produce three Senators instead of the current situation, in which the FCT produces just one Senator, following the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC), which asserted that places like the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were on equal footing with other States of the Federation.
Olajengbesi, the managing partner of the Abuja-based law firm Law Corridor, said in a statement on Tuesday that for Abuja to produce one senator while the Tribunal accepted the arguments of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would amount to double standards and grave injustice if 25% FCT votes stand.
Olajengbesi said, “According to Section 48 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), there shall be three senators each from the 36 states of the Federation and one from the FCT. However, in the light of the Tribunal’s verdict on FCT having no special status and being equal to ever state in Nigeria, this section of the constitution should be modified forth to allow Abuja indigenes produce three senators like other states and a governor too just like other states. Anything short of this is injustice and double standards.”
Displeased with the outcome of the February 25 presidential poll wherein INEC declared APC’s Bola Tinubu as the winner, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party’s Peter Obi approached the Tribunal to nullify the APC candidate’s declaration as President.
Obi and his party, in their petition, had argued that Tinubu should be disqualified from being President because he failed to win 25% of the votes cast in the FCT.
But on September 6, 2023, a five-member tribunal panel chaired by Justice Haruna Tsammani dismissed the petition, rejecting the arguments that the FCT does not have a special status and is therefore equal to all other states in Nigeria and that winning at least 25% of the votes cast there is a requirement for presidential candidates to be declared winners of the election.
The judge stated that in order to be elected president of Nigeria, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast in presidential elections in which two or more candidates are running, as well as at least 25% of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.