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Tinubu’s Counsel Argues: Considering FCT as 37th State Crucial to Prevent Anarchy, Tells Tribunal

July 17, 2023

The legal representatives of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima have called on the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) to dismiss the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi. Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel for the President and Vice-President, made this request in his final written address to the Tribunal.

Olanipekun argued that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, should be considered as Nigeria’s 37th state. He further stated that Tinubu, the presidential flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), obtained 25% of the valid votes cast in the FCT. According to him, any other interpretation would result in chaos and anarchy throughout the country.

Highlighting the absence of punctuation in Section 134(2)(b) of the constitution, Olanipekun emphasized that the reading of the subsection should be conjunctive and not disjunctive. He contended that the Constitution clearly treats the FCT as if it were the 37th state, as per Section 299 of the Constitution.

Describing the arguments and testimonies presented by Obi and the LP as frivolous, bogus, and hearsay-based, Olanipekun urged the court to dismiss the petition on the grounds of lacking merit, substance, and bona fide.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asserted that the petitioners’ contention that the election should be nullified due to Tinubu’s failure to secure 25% of the votes in the FCT is not supported by any legally recognized facts. He argued that the use of “and” in the Constitution is conjunctive, not disjunctive.

In his written address, Olanipekun stated, “This case clearly lacks relevant and admissible evidence. The appellant fails to understand that judges do not possess the ability to perform miracles or manufacture evidence to assist a plaintiff in winning a case.”

The outcome of the petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is yet to be determined.

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