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Section 134: SAN seeks INEC clarification on two-thirds majority votes

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
18 January 2023   |   11:41 am
A senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Olisa Agbakoba is seeking the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC's clarification on section 134 of the Nigeria constitution. In a letter dated January 17, the SAN questioned the clarity of section 134 of the 1999 Constitution that provides requirements to be met by a Presidential candidate in relation to…

[FILES] Osun election. Photo/FACEBOOK/inecnigeria

A senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Olisa Agbakoba is seeking the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s clarification on section 134 of the Nigeria constitution.

In a letter dated January 17, the SAN questioned the clarity of section 134 of the 1999 Constitution that provides requirements to be met by a Presidential candidate in relation to the office of the President of Nigeria.

Agbakoba specifically pointed out that the section held, “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected, where, there being only two candidates for the election –

“he has the majority of votes cast at the election; and

“he has 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 and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election-

“he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and

“he has 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 and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”

But the lawyer however said, having reviewed the section 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 these:

“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

“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.

He added, “finally, section 134(1)(a) provides that a candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected, where, there being only two candidates for the election, the candidate has the majority of votes cast at the election, but section 134(2) provides that a candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election, the candidate has the highest number of votes cast at the election.

“The Constitution describes the winner in two different languages. One, the winner must score the majority of votes and the other, the winner must score the highest number of votes. This is confusing.”

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