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25% controversy: Group of five ask court to stop Tinubu’s inauguration, call for elongation of Buhari’s tenure

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The controversy over whether a candidate can be declared the president of Nigeria without securing 25% of votes cast in the federal capital territory of Abuja is yet to be over as five residents of the city have sued the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) over the scheduled May 29th inauguration of president elect, Bola Tinubu as the nation’s president.

Even though the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has averred that a candidate must not secure 25 percent of the votes in the FCT to be declared winner because the FCT was not accorded any special status in the constitution, the plaintiffs insisted that Tinubu’s inability to secure at least 25 percent of votes cast in the FCT has invalidated his claim to the presidential seat.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/578/2023 was filed before the federal high court in Abuja on April 28.

The plaintiffs — Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffrey Ucheh Osang Paul and Chibuike Nwachukwu — sued for themselves and on behalf of other residents and registered voters in the FCT.

They are asking the court to determine “whether or not the person who is to be elected president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and consequently administrator of the FCT through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority, on the first ballot is required by section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution to obtain at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT”.

“Whether the plaintiffs and other residents and registered voters in the FCT Abuja would not be discriminated against if any state within the federal republic of Nigeria were substituted for the FCT.

Should the questions for determination be answered in the affirmative, the plaintiffs are praying for a declaration that “no candidate in the February 25th presidential election may validly be sworn in as president and commander in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria without such candidate having obtained 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.

The plaintiffs also want a declaration extending President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure pending when a successor is determined in accordance with the constitution.

They want the court to set aside the certificate of return issued to Tinubu and restrain the CJN and any other judicial officer from swearing in any candidate in the presidential election as president or vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until the issue is determined in court.

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