Tuesday, February 28, 2023 6:38 pm
By Femi Falana
Section 299(1) of the Constitution provides that the provisions of the Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory as if it were one of the states of the Federation. It means that the FCT is the 37th state.
So section 134 of the Constitution which provides that “not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in EACH of at least two-thirds of ALL THE STATES AND the FCT” means 25 states or 24 states plus the FCT. Winning the FCT by a candidate is not compulsory.
In BABA-PANYA V. PRESIDENT, F. R. N. (2018) 15 NWLR (PT. 1643) 395 the Court of Appeal held inter alia:
“It is therefore doubtless clear that by virtue of Section 299 of the Constitution of the Federation, the Federal Capital Territory is in law a State. In others words the Federal Capital Territory should be treated as one of the States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It follows therefore that bodies like the Federal Capital Development Authority are to be regarded an agency of “a State” independent of the Federal Government. It would appear that the only relationship existing between the Federal Government and the Federal Capital Territory is that its executive and legislative powers and duties are exercised for it by the President through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the National Assembly respectively. From the provision of Section 299(a), where the President through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Acts, he does so as a Governor of a State, so also where the National Assembly legislates for Abuja it does so as a State House of Assembly.”
Thus by the combined effect of sections 134 and 299 of the Constitution, a candidate shall be deemed to have won the presidential election if he scores the majority of lawful votes cast at the election and 25 percent of lawful votes in 37 states or 36 states plus the FCT. It is not compulsory for a presidential candidate to win the FCT.
Femi Falana SAN