PEPT Tribunal judgment: FCT should have three senators like other states – Olajengbesi

Following the verdict of the Presidential Petition Tribunal Court which asserted that places the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on equal footing with other states, Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, has said that the nation’s capital, Abuja, should be allowed to fully enjoy the benefits of a state and produce three senators instead of the present situation where the FCT produces just one senator.

In a statement on Tuesday, Olajengbesi, the Managing Partner at Abuja-based law firm, Law Corridor, said it would be tantamount to double standards and grave injustice for Abuja to produce one senator whilst the Tribunal allowed the arguments of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 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 every state in Nigeria, this section of the constitution should be modified forthwith 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.”

Dissatisfied 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.

However, in a 12-hour marathon ruling on September 6, 2023, the Tribunal’s five-man panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed the petition alleging that winning at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT is a requirement for presidential candidates to be declared winners of the election and that the FCT does not enjoy a special status and therefore equal to every other state in Nigeria.

The justice said Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-thirds of the 36 States and FCT to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.

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