Five Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have taken legal action against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) regarding the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as the country’s president. Tinubu, who represented the All Progressives Congress (APC), emerged as the victor in the presidential election held on February 25, receiving 8,794,726 votes. However, the plaintiffs argue that Tinubu failed to secure a minimum of 25 percent of the votes in the FCT.
The case, identified as FHC/ABJ/CS/578/2023, was filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 28. The plaintiffs, namely Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffrey Ucheh Osang Paul, and Chibuike Nwanchukwu, filed the lawsuit on their own behalf as well as on behalf of other residents and registered voters in the FCT.
The primary issue to be determined by the court is whether or not the presidential candidate, who is to be elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and, consequently, as the administrator of the FCT through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority, is required by Section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution to obtain at least 25 percent of the votes cast in the FCT.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs question whether the residents and registered voters in the FCT would face discrimination if any state within the country could be substituted for the FCT in this context.
If the court answers these questions affirmatively, the plaintiffs seek a declaration that no candidate in the February 25th presidential election can be validly sworn in as the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without obtaining 25 percent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Additionally, the plaintiffs request a declaration to extend President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure until a successor is determined in accordance with the constitution. They also seek to set aside the certificate of return issued to Tinubu and prevent the CJN and any other judicial officer from swearing in any presidential or vice-presidential candidate until the matter is resolved by the court.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that a candidate is not required to secure 25 percent of the votes in the FCT to be declared the winner. According to INEC, the FCT does not possess any special status in the constitution, contrary to what has been mistakenly portrayed.
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