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Showing posts with label Lawyers. Show all posts

GO TO COURT! - Mike Ozekhome

GO TO COURT! - Mike Ozekhome


INTRODUCTION


I am today compelled to write on the topical trending issue of the moment– “GO TO COURT”. Yes, you heard me right: go to court. Nigeria is a great country, but a very interesting one with spectacular oddities and oxymorons. Every day is new. I love her to no end.


WHY GO TO COURT?



Politicians, sorry, Politricians, have popularised “Go to Court” in their morbid desperation to acquire power at all cost. By hook or by crook. They are desperados. They have been very successful in messing up our hard-earned democracy. They carry out unspeakable acts – bizarre acts drained of logic, legality, constitutionality and morality – and then tell you to your face, “Go to Court”. This is a sad sarcasm of their obvious derisive, pejorative and derogatory euphemism for our beleaguered justice–delivery systems.


What the Politricians are saying cheek-in-tongue, in effect, shorn of all pretences, affectation and braggadocio, is that they believe you cannot get justice in the courts. So, they taunt you to ‘go to court’. Before, during and after elections, they kill, maim, burn, thumbprint; steal and allocate ballot boxes and paper; steal BVAs machines; propel their candidates to “win at all costs”; select their winners; and collude with INEC to announce their preferred victors. Then, they humour you with, “Go to Court”. For you, my readers, if you do not like this my introductory part, please, do me a favour – go to court.


EXPANDING NIGERIA’S POLITICAL LEXICON


The new refrain in town – go to court – is therefore an obvious addition to our ever-elastic warped political lexicon. Webster, Oxford, Collins, Longman, Black – all Dictionary exponents – must be green with envy from their cold graves.


I have since added new words to our political vocabulary and encyclopedia – “Electionocracy”; “Selectocracy”; “Judocracy”; “Executocracy” and “Legislatocracy”. Mike Ozekhome says we are not practicing democracy in Nigeria Is this the Nigeria of our dreams?”; This Nigeria is a captured state”.


THE FLAWED 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS


The last Presidential, NASS, Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were the worst I have ever witnessed in this contraption called Nigeria since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates by Lord Frederick Lugard (22nd January, 1858 – 11th April, 1945), on the 1st of January, 1914, to found Nigeria. If you do not like this opinion of mine, go to court.


I guffawed when I heard President Muhammadu Buhari, in congratulating Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his presumed victory at the 25th February, 2023 presidential election, say, “None of the issues registered represents a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections”. Mr. President, did I hear you correctly sir? I can already see through the eyes of the minds of his handlers and coterie of media snipers, and those of Tinubu, calling me out. I can hear them telling me to “go to court” if I do not like the President’s biased stance expressed in the face of stiff challenge by his co-contestants. My simple response is, go to court if you do not like my own critique.


No sir, Mr. President. I humbly disagree, sir. The last elections were neither free, fair, transparent, honest, respectable, nor imbued with any iota of integrity and dignity. They represented an abysmal retrogression into Australopithecus stone-age election farce. The elections were clearly shambolic, unsystematic, mismanaged, violent, vicious; highly compromised; and drained of any local or international respect and recognition. The outright rejection of, or at best, very lukewarm tolerance of (not wholesome

acceptance or embrace) by the international community, speaks volumes of the elections’ lack of rectitude and honour. Any final emergent product of the fundamentally flawed presidential election will have a moral burden to contend with – even if court judgements were to favour him. The moral burden will hang like an albatross, on his neck throughout his entire tenure of office. It will be more like an ignoble trophy or diadem. I shudder to conjecture the ricocheting effect and dire consequences this forebodes for Nigeria. I am not a seer or clairvoyant, but I can tell Nigerians categorically to brace up for harder times ahead. If you are not comfortable with these humble views of mine, then go to court.


THE “BINANIGATE”


The hallmark of this “go to court” mantra finally crystallised last week during the gubernatorial election in Adamawa state. The events there represent the shame of a country whose citizens, having experienced too many doses of travails, now appear unshockable. I have since been stressed and distressed. Can this shame be wiped off our electoral slate, or democracy syllabus? I do not know. Or, do you? The deeds and misdeeds that attended the Adamawa macabre dance of death remind me of the regretful and symbolic words of Macbeth, in William Shakespeare’s epic “Macbeth” (Act II, Scene II).


In bemoaning his unprovoked decision to assassinate King Duncan, Macbeth lamented that all the oceans of the world would not be capable of washing the blood from his hands. This was even before killing King Duncan. Hear Macbeth: “Will all great Neptune’s Ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”. If you do not like my taking you back to Shakespearean literature to allegorize and metaphorize these points of mine, then, go to court.


Like many Nigerians, I keenly followed the Binani phenomenon – now “BinaniGATE” (most unfortunately). I like the Senator’s quiet mien, respectable carriage, calm disposition and ever-smiling exterior. She appears incandescent, even if shy. These qualities belied a steely, strong-willed “Margaret Thatcher” of an iron lady, who had taken Adamawa politics by storm, breaking down chauvinistic barriers, and mauling entrenched fixations and stereotypes. My love went straight to her, like the one I had for my late dear mother who died in 1997. I had grown up with my parents in Iviukwe town, in the 60s and 70s. I went to the farm, and far-flung streams with my late mother and late father, who died in 1992. I followed her to dig and plant into ridges, groundnut, beans, cocoyam, maize and yam. I fetched firewood from scorpion-infested dried trees. I fetched water from stagnant spirogyra-infested streams and dirty ponds, with calabashes. We then used alum to purify the water. So, I saw my mother in Binani. I also suddenly saw in Binani, my dear wife – my pillar of strength; my soulmate; my girlfriend; my confidant and sister; my mother and best friend in the world. For these reasons, and propelled by her top-notch political credentials, I, like many Nigerians, silently yearned that she won in a free, fair and transparent election. This, for me, notwithstanding that the big “home boys” holding fort in Adamawa are my elder and younger friends, respectively – former VP, Waziri Atiku Abubakar and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri. But what did we see? A damnatory and ruinous anti-climax.


A sad summersault indeed! Binani was declared “winner” of an election whose supplementary results were still being collated and counted. It was done by an unauthorized and illegal person – the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) – rather than the INEC-appointed Returning Officer. This, even while she was trailing her main opponent, Governor Fintiri, by over 31,000 votes! Wonders shall never end. She had wanted to foist on INEC, the courts and sympathetic Nigerians (like me), a situation of fait accompli. She will then tell Fintiri to “go to court”. The INEC REC’s audaciousness and brazen acts appear modeled after the INEC leadership itself, which had condoned and facilitated huge electoral malpractices, and told Nigerians to go to court.


THE BACKGROUND TO THE FAILED COUP


Let us have a historical background to this electoral fraud which was actually, a failed coup d’etat.


On 18th March, 2023, Adamawa residents went to the polls, hopeful of the workings of democracy – a concept defined by Abraham Lincoln (with penetrating erudition) in his Gettysburg Declaration on 19th November, 1863, as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. At the close of voting, sitting Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, garnered a total of 421,522 votes to lead in 13 of the 21 LGAs of Adamawa State. He beat his closest rival, Aisha Dahiru (A.KA. Binani) by over 32,000 votes, as she trailed with 390,275 votes obtained in 8 LGAs. Mohammed Mele, a Professor of English at the University of Maiduguri, who was the INEC-appointed Returning Officer (and who is the only statutorily authorized person under section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to declare governorship results and announce the winner), however, announced that the election was inconclusive. His reason was that the margin of victory by Fintiri was less that the total votes expected from 69 polling units in 20 LGAs affected by serious electoral issues. In those polling units, there are 42,785 registered voters. But those who collected their PVCs were only 36,955.


All very well and good, if, this was systematic and methodical. It was not. Why didn’t the same INEC use a similar yardstick to withhold declaring Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State as the winner of the same 18th March, 2023 gubernatorial election, when the challenger, Chief Oladipupo Adebutu only trailed Abiodun by a mere 13,915 votes, with only 18,835 votes rejected? Why the duplicity and double standards by INEC in declaring Abiodun the winner then, as against its refusal to declare Fintiri the winner at the first election of 18th March, 2023, under the same circumstances? Abiodun and APC (and even INEC) had simply told Adebutu to go to court. Go to court, he has since done.


THE ADAMAWA CIRCUS SHOW


What happened next could be taken straight from a poorly acted local movie, with desperate script writers and caricature choreographers. It was like a dramatic circus show; a Baba Sala’s Alawada Keri Keri piece of histrionics.


During the supplementary election that took place on April 15, 2023, Fintiri had been clearly leading, with 19,337 votes, to Binani’s 6,513. The gap difference was 2, 824. This was, however, only in 10 LGAs of the 20 LGAs in which voting took place. When you add these 2,824 votes to Fintiri’s March 18 lead of 31,247, Fintiri was surely galloping home to victory with 34,071 votes ahead of Binani. Then some unseen hands struck. They usually behave like witches and wizards in a coven.


With results from 10 out of 20 LGAs already in, the Returning Officer adjourned proceedings to 11 am of the following day. Suddenly (like Fela Kuti of blessed memory would say), one Hudu Ari, the Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), struck at 9 am, before the 11 am earmarked for the continuation. Surrounded and escorted by an armada of recruited armed-to-the-teeth Soldiers, DSS operatives, Civil Defence goons, the Police, and thugs, Ari casually strolled into the collation centre, brandishing a folded written piece of paper that contained no final result.


To the shock of all present, he proceeded to announce and declare Binani as the “winner” of the election, whose results were still being collated. The loser who was trailing behind by over 34,000 votes was declared “winner”. Their agenda? Go to court? And bam! Binani “accepted” her “victory”. She was undoubtedly part and parcel of the orchestrated charade and shameful events. If not, how would she have prepared an acceptance speech for results she had not yet seen or known about, just like others? How come only NTA (the Federal Government’s megaphone) was the only media that covered the vaudeville and travesty? In her 21 seconds clip of historical profanity and feminine remissness and delinquency, she told angry Adamawa citizens that “you’ve made history in electing the first female governor in our dear country, Nigeria. This will no doubt broaden political participation by encouraging our daughters, aunties, mothers and indeed our girl child”. Oh blimey! The sentiments! The emotionalism!


Binani not done, even audaciously approached the Federal High Court (yes, in fulfillment of the “go to court” carol), through an ex parte application and urged Justice Inyang Ekwo on 17th April, 2023, to give judicial imprimatur to her sins, in motion No FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023. Ekwo was a “Daniel come to Judgement”. He rejected the ex parte application. The cerebral Jurist suo motu raised the critical issue of jurisdiction. He directed Binani’s Counsel to return on 26th April, 2023, to convince him that the court has jurisdiction over the matter.


For once, INEC acted swiftly, salvaging whatever remains of its bruised image in the Adamawa theatrics. It suspended further collation; recalled Ari to Abuja; declared null, void and of no effect, the purported declaration of Binani as winner, as it amounted to usurpation of the powers of the Returning Officer. It also vowed to petition IGP (Usman Baba) to investigate and possibly prosecute Ari. INEC also requested the SGF, Boss Mustapha, to brief Buhari (the appointing authority), about Ari’s show of shame.


Will Ari, the DSS, Police, Military, FRSC, Civil Defence Personnel and even Binani be prosecuted under sections 64, 120 and 121 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to set a clear signal that Nigeria is not a banana Republic? Only time will tell. But, for now, go to court. Did the alleged bribery with the sum of N2 billion actually change hands to bring about this attempted monumental heist and thievery? Who will dig in and inform Nigerians? Which rat will bell the cat? Only time will tell. But, for now, go to court.


As at today, Fintiri has been properly pronounced re-elected Governor of Adamawa State. For those who are dissatisfied with this, go to court. For those who enjoyed this write-up, go to court. For those who loathe what I have written, go to court. For all Nigerians, go to court. For the Judges who will sit over this election matters, go to court. Finally, for the court themselves that harbour the Judges who will hear the matters, go to court. Let us all go to court.


- Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt.


INTRODUCTION


I am today compelled to write on the topical trending issue of the moment– “GO TO COURT”. Yes, you heard me right: go to court. Nigeria is a great country, but a very interesting one with spectacular oddities and oxymorons. Every day is new. I love her to no end.


WHY GO TO COURT?



Politicians, sorry, Politricians, have popularised “Go to Court” in their morbid desperation to acquire power at all cost. By hook or by crook. They are desperados. They have been very successful in messing up our hard-earned democracy. They carry out unspeakable acts – bizarre acts drained of logic, legality, constitutionality and morality – and then tell you to your face, “Go to Court”. This is a sad sarcasm of their obvious derisive, pejorative and derogatory euphemism for our beleaguered justice–delivery systems.


What the Politricians are saying cheek-in-tongue, in effect, shorn of all pretences, affectation and braggadocio, is that they believe you cannot get justice in the courts. So, they taunt you to ‘go to court’. Before, during and after elections, they kill, maim, burn, thumbprint; steal and allocate ballot boxes and paper; steal BVAs machines; propel their candidates to “win at all costs”; select their winners; and collude with INEC to announce their preferred victors. Then, they humour you with, “Go to Court”. For you, my readers, if you do not like this my introductory part, please, do me a favour – go to court.


EXPANDING NIGERIA’S POLITICAL LEXICON


The new refrain in town – go to court – is therefore an obvious addition to our ever-elastic warped political lexicon. Webster, Oxford, Collins, Longman, Black – all Dictionary exponents – must be green with envy from their cold graves.


I have since added new words to our political vocabulary and encyclopedia – “Electionocracy”; “Selectocracy”; “Judocracy”; “Executocracy” and “Legislatocracy”. Mike Ozekhome says we are not practicing democracy in Nigeria Is this the Nigeria of our dreams?”; This Nigeria is a captured state”.


THE FLAWED 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS


The last Presidential, NASS, Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were the worst I have ever witnessed in this contraption called Nigeria since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates by Lord Frederick Lugard (22nd January, 1858 – 11th April, 1945), on the 1st of January, 1914, to found Nigeria. If you do not like this opinion of mine, go to court.


I guffawed when I heard President Muhammadu Buhari, in congratulating Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his presumed victory at the 25th February, 2023 presidential election, say, “None of the issues registered represents a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections”. Mr. President, did I hear you correctly sir? I can already see through the eyes of the minds of his handlers and coterie of media snipers, and those of Tinubu, calling me out. I can hear them telling me to “go to court” if I do not like the President’s biased stance expressed in the face of stiff challenge by his co-contestants. My simple response is, go to court if you do not like my own critique.


No sir, Mr. President. I humbly disagree, sir. The last elections were neither free, fair, transparent, honest, respectable, nor imbued with any iota of integrity and dignity. They represented an abysmal retrogression into Australopithecus stone-age election farce. The elections were clearly shambolic, unsystematic, mismanaged, violent, vicious; highly compromised; and drained of any local or international respect and recognition. The outright rejection of, or at best, very lukewarm tolerance of (not wholesome

acceptance or embrace) by the international community, speaks volumes of the elections’ lack of rectitude and honour. Any final emergent product of the fundamentally flawed presidential election will have a moral burden to contend with – even if court judgements were to favour him. The moral burden will hang like an albatross, on his neck throughout his entire tenure of office. It will be more like an ignoble trophy or diadem. I shudder to conjecture the ricocheting effect and dire consequences this forebodes for Nigeria. I am not a seer or clairvoyant, but I can tell Nigerians categorically to brace up for harder times ahead. If you are not comfortable with these humble views of mine, then go to court.


THE “BINANIGATE”


The hallmark of this “go to court” mantra finally crystallised last week during the gubernatorial election in Adamawa state. The events there represent the shame of a country whose citizens, having experienced too many doses of travails, now appear unshockable. I have since been stressed and distressed. Can this shame be wiped off our electoral slate, or democracy syllabus? I do not know. Or, do you? The deeds and misdeeds that attended the Adamawa macabre dance of death remind me of the regretful and symbolic words of Macbeth, in William Shakespeare’s epic “Macbeth” (Act II, Scene II).


In bemoaning his unprovoked decision to assassinate King Duncan, Macbeth lamented that all the oceans of the world would not be capable of washing the blood from his hands. This was even before killing King Duncan. Hear Macbeth: “Will all great Neptune’s Ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”. If you do not like my taking you back to Shakespearean literature to allegorize and metaphorize these points of mine, then, go to court.


Like many Nigerians, I keenly followed the Binani phenomenon – now “BinaniGATE” (most unfortunately). I like the Senator’s quiet mien, respectable carriage, calm disposition and ever-smiling exterior. She appears incandescent, even if shy. These qualities belied a steely, strong-willed “Margaret Thatcher” of an iron lady, who had taken Adamawa politics by storm, breaking down chauvinistic barriers, and mauling entrenched fixations and stereotypes. My love went straight to her, like the one I had for my late dear mother who died in 1997. I had grown up with my parents in Iviukwe town, in the 60s and 70s. I went to the farm, and far-flung streams with my late mother and late father, who died in 1992. I followed her to dig and plant into ridges, groundnut, beans, cocoyam, maize and yam. I fetched firewood from scorpion-infested dried trees. I fetched water from stagnant spirogyra-infested streams and dirty ponds, with calabashes. We then used alum to purify the water. So, I saw my mother in Binani. I also suddenly saw in Binani, my dear wife – my pillar of strength; my soulmate; my girlfriend; my confidant and sister; my mother and best friend in the world. For these reasons, and propelled by her top-notch political credentials, I, like many Nigerians, silently yearned that she won in a free, fair and transparent election. This, for me, notwithstanding that the big “home boys” holding fort in Adamawa are my elder and younger friends, respectively – former VP, Waziri Atiku Abubakar and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri. But what did we see? A damnatory and ruinous anti-climax.


A sad summersault indeed! Binani was declared “winner” of an election whose supplementary results were still being collated and counted. It was done by an unauthorized and illegal person – the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) – rather than the INEC-appointed Returning Officer. This, even while she was trailing her main opponent, Governor Fintiri, by over 31,000 votes! Wonders shall never end. She had wanted to foist on INEC, the courts and sympathetic Nigerians (like me), a situation of fait accompli. She will then tell Fintiri to “go to court”. The INEC REC’s audaciousness and brazen acts appear modeled after the INEC leadership itself, which had condoned and facilitated huge electoral malpractices, and told Nigerians to go to court.


THE BACKGROUND TO THE FAILED COUP


Let us have a historical background to this electoral fraud which was actually, a failed coup d’etat.


On 18th March, 2023, Adamawa residents went to the polls, hopeful of the workings of democracy – a concept defined by Abraham Lincoln (with penetrating erudition) in his Gettysburg Declaration on 19th November, 1863, as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. At the close of voting, sitting Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, garnered a total of 421,522 votes to lead in 13 of the 21 LGAs of Adamawa State. He beat his closest rival, Aisha Dahiru (A.KA. Binani) by over 32,000 votes, as she trailed with 390,275 votes obtained in 8 LGAs. Mohammed Mele, a Professor of English at the University of Maiduguri, who was the INEC-appointed Returning Officer (and who is the only statutorily authorized person under section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to declare governorship results and announce the winner), however, announced that the election was inconclusive. His reason was that the margin of victory by Fintiri was less that the total votes expected from 69 polling units in 20 LGAs affected by serious electoral issues. In those polling units, there are 42,785 registered voters. But those who collected their PVCs were only 36,955.


All very well and good, if, this was systematic and methodical. It was not. Why didn’t the same INEC use a similar yardstick to withhold declaring Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State as the winner of the same 18th March, 2023 gubernatorial election, when the challenger, Chief Oladipupo Adebutu only trailed Abiodun by a mere 13,915 votes, with only 18,835 votes rejected? Why the duplicity and double standards by INEC in declaring Abiodun the winner then, as against its refusal to declare Fintiri the winner at the first election of 18th March, 2023, under the same circumstances? Abiodun and APC (and even INEC) had simply told Adebutu to go to court. Go to court, he has since done.


THE ADAMAWA CIRCUS SHOW


What happened next could be taken straight from a poorly acted local movie, with desperate script writers and caricature choreographers. It was like a dramatic circus show; a Baba Sala’s Alawada Keri Keri piece of histrionics.


During the supplementary election that took place on April 15, 2023, Fintiri had been clearly leading, with 19,337 votes, to Binani’s 6,513. The gap difference was 2, 824. This was, however, only in 10 LGAs of the 20 LGAs in which voting took place. When you add these 2,824 votes to Fintiri’s March 18 lead of 31,247, Fintiri was surely galloping home to victory with 34,071 votes ahead of Binani. Then some unseen hands struck. They usually behave like witches and wizards in a coven.


With results from 10 out of 20 LGAs already in, the Returning Officer adjourned proceedings to 11 am of the following day. Suddenly (like Fela Kuti of blessed memory would say), one Hudu Ari, the Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), struck at 9 am, before the 11 am earmarked for the continuation. Surrounded and escorted by an armada of recruited armed-to-the-teeth Soldiers, DSS operatives, Civil Defence goons, the Police, and thugs, Ari casually strolled into the collation centre, brandishing a folded written piece of paper that contained no final result.


To the shock of all present, he proceeded to announce and declare Binani as the “winner” of the election, whose results were still being collated. The loser who was trailing behind by over 34,000 votes was declared “winner”. Their agenda? Go to court? And bam! Binani “accepted” her “victory”. She was undoubtedly part and parcel of the orchestrated charade and shameful events. If not, how would she have prepared an acceptance speech for results she had not yet seen or known about, just like others? How come only NTA (the Federal Government’s megaphone) was the only media that covered the vaudeville and travesty? In her 21 seconds clip of historical profanity and feminine remissness and delinquency, she told angry Adamawa citizens that “you’ve made history in electing the first female governor in our dear country, Nigeria. This will no doubt broaden political participation by encouraging our daughters, aunties, mothers and indeed our girl child”. Oh blimey! The sentiments! The emotionalism!


Binani not done, even audaciously approached the Federal High Court (yes, in fulfillment of the “go to court” carol), through an ex parte application and urged Justice Inyang Ekwo on 17th April, 2023, to give judicial imprimatur to her sins, in motion No FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023. Ekwo was a “Daniel come to Judgement”. He rejected the ex parte application. The cerebral Jurist suo motu raised the critical issue of jurisdiction. He directed Binani’s Counsel to return on 26th April, 2023, to convince him that the court has jurisdiction over the matter.


For once, INEC acted swiftly, salvaging whatever remains of its bruised image in the Adamawa theatrics. It suspended further collation; recalled Ari to Abuja; declared null, void and of no effect, the purported declaration of Binani as winner, as it amounted to usurpation of the powers of the Returning Officer. It also vowed to petition IGP (Usman Baba) to investigate and possibly prosecute Ari. INEC also requested the SGF, Boss Mustapha, to brief Buhari (the appointing authority), about Ari’s show of shame.


Will Ari, the DSS, Police, Military, FRSC, Civil Defence Personnel and even Binani be prosecuted under sections 64, 120 and 121 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to set a clear signal that Nigeria is not a banana Republic? Only time will tell. But, for now, go to court. Did the alleged bribery with the sum of N2 billion actually change hands to bring about this attempted monumental heist and thievery? Who will dig in and inform Nigerians? Which rat will bell the cat? Only time will tell. But, for now, go to court.


As at today, Fintiri has been properly pronounced re-elected Governor of Adamawa State. For those who are dissatisfied with this, go to court. For those who enjoyed this write-up, go to court. For those who loathe what I have written, go to court. For all Nigerians, go to court. For the Judges who will sit over this election matters, go to court. Finally, for the court themselves that harbour the Judges who will hear the matters, go to court. Let us all go to court.


- Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt.

RE-PRESIDENCY : THE SUPREME COURT HAS RESOLVED FCT 25% QUANDARY - MIKE OZEKHOME

RE-PRESIDENCY : THE SUPREME COURT HAS RESOLVED FCT 25% QUANDARY - MIKE OZEKHOME

 *(Read and understand why Tinubu needs to get 25% of votes in Abuja.)*


INTRODUCTION


In an article titled, “Presidency: Supreme Court has resolved FCT 25% quandary: (https:// the eagleonline.com.ng), my younger friend, Dr Kayode Ajulo, specifically mentioned my name (amongst other senior lawyers), whom he respectfully referred to as “revered to be authorities in their fields”. He even generously described us as “legends of Inner Bar (who are) jurists who have become oracles of constitutional law whose names have refused to leave the pages of law reports”. I thank Ajulo for his kind effusive words of praises and adulation.


Were this kind recognition all he said about me and the other “oracles of constitutional law”, I would not have bothered to write this rejoinder. But, he soon thereafter most unfairly descended on us with unrestrained upbraiding as follows: 


“And when they lend their respected voices to public issues, their words are taken as gospel by laymen who lack the qualification and the intellectual rigour to interrogate their opinions of these senior lawyers as Yeah and Amen”.


“However, this electioneering season has been an eye opening one for some of us. It has been a season of unraveling and miracles as to how some legal professionals have, either by deliberate action or absence of proper research, interpret one of the simplest provisions in our Constitution as regards election to the Office of the President and requirements of the candidate for that highest  public office in the land”.


“We have seen those that should know and those who have held exalted and enviable positions hold curious opinions on Constitutional issues that embarrass our industry and harass ones intellect”.


“For some of them, politics have been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class. But this is a dangerous mix. There is politics, and there is law. While they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues that affect the nationhood of the country and the collective development of her citizens”.


This write-up of mine should, therefore, be seen as my RIGHT OF REPLY of (see section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as altered). I honestly believe Dr Ajulo went too far in categorizing all senior lawyers whose views are not in tandem with his as holding “curious opinions”, either “by deliberate action or lack of proper research”. He also accused us of being tainted by partisanship or politics, merely for expressing our views. And to think that such views to him constitute “curious opinions on constitutional issues that embarrass our industry and harass our intellect”, was far too rude, self-opinionated and too vainglorious to be swept under the carpet. He erroneously (perhaps, arrogantly), elevated his personal views over and above all others’. Where is that coming from? Narcissism? Politics? godfatherism? I do not know. Or, do you?  The truth is that it is, rather, Ajulo’s views that were not only political, but heavily politicised. His entire piece read like a piece of a political party’s manifesto. It failed woefully to exhibit the attributes of the rigours and intellectual breadth and depth of scholarly research which he so gleefully talked about in his needless diatribe.






My simple take on this is that when a debate on a serious controversial national issue gets to a crescendo such as we now have it, various dimensions of and opinions on the issue under discourse must be vigorously pursued, explored and interrogated. Consequently, as regards this raging ruckus and scrimmage as to whether the 25% votes required by S.134 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution ( as amended) is applicable to the FCT, Abuja, I have now decided to navigate further, some uncharted routes, by going mathematical to find X. This will surely emphasize to Ajulo, and others who hold similar or same views as his, that this matter is not just about to go away, or be buried, or swept under the mat, until it is, perhaps, finally laid to rest by the Supreme Court. Even at that, Scholars and Analysts will, for centuries to come, still interrogate it, in the same way, that the debate over the case of AWOLOWO V. SHAGARI & 2 Ors (1979) LPELR-653 (SC), still rages till date (44 years later!).   


Contrary to the simplistic and cavalier manner with which Ajulo dismissed the 25% compulsory requirement (even while paradoxically also extensively discussing it himself), it will not vanish into thin air just like that! He gravely errs in thinking that the debate is simply about how to “interpret one of the simplest provisions in our Constitution”. We must tackle it headlong. Let us therefore now take the argument further. I have always believed that it is in the clash of ideas that the truth- the naked truth– finally emerges.


There is no doubt that the provisions of section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution is rooted in mathematics. It requires that a winning presidential candidate shall have “not less than one-quarter of the votes at the election in each of at least two-third of all the states in the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory Abuja”. (Emphasis supplied).


As lawyers, we should not shy away from embarking on this mathematical pathway to resolve the steaming controversy. Yes, mathematics is part of lawyers’ job in resolving disputes; and Nigerian courts are not strangers to mathematical judgments. Afterall, the 1979 Presidential Election involving Shagari and Awolowo was wholly litigated, won and lost on the basis of the Supreme Court’s mathematical interpretation of what amounted then to 2/3 of the then 19 states of the Federation. The Supreme Court, in delivering judgment in favour of Shagari, ruled that the requirement of votes to win the Presidential election was 25% in 12 states, and no more. It cautiously avoided the attendant fractionalization of Kano State, so as to avoid absurdity in interpretation. My deep research has just thrown up a judgment where the court was called upon to interpret and translate 1.00 to percentage. The Honourable Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of the National Industrial Court, in resolving the mathematical legal question, held that “1.00 of an amount means one whole number and not a fraction; and when converted to percentage, it means 100% and not 1%”. See “https://guardian.ng/features” law Court rules that 1.00 base salary to mean 100% in mathematical judgment” – The Guardian 26th November, 2019). 


Let me therefore state very clearly here, that contrary to what is being peddled by many commentators as purportedly settled judicial decisions on the status of FCT, Abuja (many of them critiquing my earlier write-up (see www.”ruebenabati.com.na-(opinion)- The 25% of FCT, Abuja conundrum-Mike-Ozekhome; Barristering.ng.com”) such decisions are not authorities for the very recondite and recherch├ę issue posed by the 2023 Presidential Election results, which border on mathematical interpretation of the provisions of section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, regarding the required percentage of votes which must be secured by a candidate in the Presidential Election in relation to the 36 states of the Federation and FCT, Abuja. There is no known judicial authority which has decided and settled this abstruse, arcane and enigmatic legal puzzle which is similar to the one that was thrown up in the aftermath of the 1979 Presidential Election. But that era differs remarkably from the current scenario, as, unlike section 126(2) of the 1979 Constitution which ended with 2/3 of all the states in the Federation, the 1999 Constitution added a fresh, rider, “And the FCT, Abuja”. Both the 1979 Constitution and the unused Babangida’s 1989 Constitution never added FCT, Abuja, since although same was created by Decree No. 6 of 1976, on February 5, 1976, by the assassinated General Muritala Mohammed, it came into existence on December 12, 1991, after the 1979 Constitution had been promulgated; but before the 1989 Babangida Constitution which never saw the light of day.


There is also no doubt that the FCT, Abuja, is not, strict sensu, a State (it has no State-like governance structure). However, by S.299 of the 1999 Constitution and many judicial decisions, it is “to be treated as a State“:  See BABA-PANYA V. PRESIDENT FRN (2018) 15NWLR (Pt 1643)423; BAKAR V. OGUNDIPE (2021) 5 NWLR (Pt 1768) 9. A Community reading of section 2(2), 3(1)(4), 134(2)(b), 297, 298, 299, 301 and 302 of the 1999 Constitution shows that the FCT is accorded a special status as quite distinct from that of a normal state; notwithstanding that it is to be “treated as a state”.  


In dealing with this my new vista which now takes on a mathematical dimension, there are agreed parameters to note and apply, as answering  a mathematical question requires patiently adopting  methodical approach, using certain  laid down formula. This is what is called ‘operation show your work before putting QED on your answer’. The mathematical question thus posed by S.134 (2)(b) of the Constitution is this: what does it mean when it requires a winner of the presidential election to secure not less than (i.e at least) 1/4 ( 25%) of votes  in each of at least 2/3 of all the states in the Federation (36 states) AND the FCT, Abuja? The first step is to note that there are two parts- the variable and constant figures. In mathematics, while constant is a fixed figure, variable figures are imprecise. But, the variables must, nonetheless be ascertained before proceeding to conclude or ascribe a fixed figure in a given arithmetical equation. It is this inability to ascertain the variable figure that usually makes some students afraid of, and intimidated by, mathematics. In the end, they always failed to find X (the constant), with the resultant hatred for mathematics. To find X, the variable figure must be worked out and ascertained in a fixed figure, such as the constant figure. 


It is clear that while “2/3 of all the states in the Federation” is the variable figure, which if worked out would give 24 states and thus become a constant figure, the “FCT, Abuja”, is always the constant figure, which stands as 1. 


Working out the equation to show that the two parts (both variable and constant figures) are separate and distinct in their respective values must be applicable to the 25% votes requirement. This would be subjected to the BODMAS (Bracket, Order of power or roots, Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction) Rule. This Rule is employed to explain the order of operation of mathematical expression. 


Here, Bracket plays the role of “AND”, which serves as coordinating conjunctive verb in English syntax, to ascertain the two parts separated by bracket: See BUHARI v. INEC (2008) 19NWLR (Pt 1120) 246 (for the definition “And”); and EYISI & ORS V. STATE (200) LPELR-1186 (SC) (for the definition of “Each”).


In applying this formulae: 


The number of states =36;


2/3 of 36 as variable =24; 


FCT, Abuja as constant =1


So, the 25% of 24 States AND FCT, Abuja (1), will be expressed as: 25 % (24)(1) in mathematics. This is interpreted in English as 25% of 24 and 1, but not 25. The 24 represents states, while 1 represents FCT, Abuja. 


The intention of the lawmaker is quite clear here. 


The FCT, Abuja, is the seat of power of the Nigerian leadership. It is a cosmopolitan convergence of all federating units of the nation. It is to be merely treated like a State; but not as a State for the strange purpose of counting the total number of States to become 37 instead of 36 States and the FCT, Abuja, as wrongly argued by some analysts. The FCT, Abuja, is the political nerve centre of Nigeria. It has been imbued with such a special status as a miniature Nigeria in such a way that any elected president must have to compulsorily win the required 25% vote in the FCT, Abuja, after winning 25% votes in 24 States.


The reasons for this are not far-fetched. FCT, Abuja, is the melting pot which unites all ethnic groups, tribes, religions, people of variegate backgrounds; and other distinct qualities and characteristics in our pluralistic society. It is indeed a multi-diverse and multi-faceted conglomerate of the different and distinct peoples of Nigeria, which according to Prof Onigu Otite, has about 474 ethnic groups which speak over 350 languages. The FCT, Abuja, is thus regarded as the “Centre of Unity”, which is a testament to its inclusiveness of all tribes, religions, ethnic groups, languages; and peoples of different backgrounds. Simply put, FCT, Abuja, is a territory or land mass that is made up of individuals from every State and virtually from all the Local Government Areas in the country. It is itself made up of 6 Area Councils, quite distinct from the 768 LGAs in Nigeria, thus bringing the total to 774 LGCs in Nigeria. Consequently, scoring 25% of votes cast in the FCT, Abuja, is a Presidential candidate’s testament to being widely accepted by majority of the Nigerian people. The President is not expected to be a tenant in his seat of power. Will he pay rent to the 24 states he scored 25% votes? I do not know. Or, do you?


The framers of the 1999 Constitution certainly desired for Nigeria, a President that is widely accepted, with national spread; and not one that is a regional kingpin with support only from of his tribe, region, or ethnic group. The provisions contained in section 134 of the 1999 Constitution are meant to reflect this. In the same vein, the framers of the 1999 Constitution viewed the FCT, Abuja, as a melting pot; a sort of mini-Nigeria. Thus, like a commentator aptly posited, the position or status of the FCT, Abuja, assumes that of a COMPULSORY question that a presidential candidate must ANSWER in the electoral examination. With the FCT, Abuja, serving as the seat of the Federal Government-with all ministries and MDAs situated in it – it represents a Dolly Parton’s “Coat of many colours”. This is why the Federal Character provided for in sections 14(3),(4); 153(1); and 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution is also reflected in the administration of FCT, even though the Gbagyis are the original Aborigines of the FCT.


The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the above is that sections 134 (2)(b) and 299 are not mutually exclusive or contradictory, as some commentators posit. Rather, section 299 actually supports and complements section 134. 


Whether FCT, Abuja, is regarded as a super-state, full State, pseudo-State, quasi-State, or semi-State, is to me, immaterial. Even if it is none of these, what matters is the clear intention of the Constitution-makers. 


Had the law makers intended that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, will be treated simply as a “State” and no more in section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution, they would have simply stopped there. There was no need to specifically add the new phrase, “AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”, as in section 134(2)(b). The Constitution would simply have provided for “two-thirds of all the States in the Federation”, and stopped there. But, it did not. 


From a historical perspective (I am a student of history), recall that the AWOLOWO V. SHAGARI case and section 299 of the 1999 Constitution which states that its provisions shall apply to the FCT, Abuja, “as if it were one of the states of the Federation; including the BABA PANYA and BAKARI cases (supra), often cited with ├ęclat, but out of context, did not deal with the issue of elections, or what percentage of the votes was expected of a presidential candidate. They merely dealt with the issues that were presented in those cases. No more. It is trite law that a case is only an authority for what its peculiar facts present: BABATUNDE v. PASTA (2007) 13 NWLR pt. 1050 pg. 113 @ 157; ADEGOKE MOTORS v. ADESANYA (1989) 3 NWLR (pt. 109) pg. 250; UWUA UDO v. THE STATE SC. 511/2014; SKYE BANK PLC. & ANOR. V. CHIEF MOSES BOLANLE AKINPEJU (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt LL98) 179; OKAFOR V. NNAIFE (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt 64)129; PDP V. INEC & ORS (2018) LPELR-44373(SC); LAGOS STATE GOVT. & ORS V. ABDULKAREEM & ORS (2022) LPELR-58517 (SC); ILA ENTERPRISES LTD & ANOR V. UMAR ALI & CO. NIG LTD (2022) LPELR-75806 (SC).


For example, when section 48 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the “Senate shall consist of three Senators from each state AND one from the FCT, Abuja”, why didn’t these canvassers of FCT, Abuja, being merely a state, argue that once we have three Senators from “each state”, we should discard the “AND” which gives one Senator to the FCT, Abuja, and thus deprive the FCT, Abuja, of its Senator? This provision is one amongst several others which shows that the FCT, Abuja, is to be treated distinctly and separately from the other 24 states. There is no ambiguity in section 134(2)(b) such as to bring in aid, existing canons of statutory interpretation, such as the “Golden Rule”, “Mischief Rule”, etc. It is axiomatic that all sections of the Constitution must be wholly and holistically construed together so as to avoid leaving out some portions, or rendering them nugatory. See THE ESTATE OF ALHAJI N.B. SOULE v. OLUSEYE JOHNSON & CO & ANOR (1974) LPELR-3169 (SC). The reason is that law makers are presumed not to use superfluous, otiose or extravagant words in provisions of the Constitution or statutes which they make.


CONCLUSION


It is my considered opinion that the scope of consideration of the FCT, Abuja, as a state, only applies to the enjoyment and vesting of Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers by relevant bodies in the FCT. It does not apply to all matters, extents, and for all purposes. Further, an interpretation that Section 299 of the Constitution applies for all purposes is too narrow. It is not holistic or inclusive. It will render many other parts of the Constitution redundant, futile, unproductive, meaningless and therefore, unnecessary. Certainly, such could not have been the intention of the Legislature or law makers. 


Section 134(2) of the Constitution must therefore be interpreted to mean that for a candidate to win the Presidential election, such a candidate must obtain 25% of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the States in the Federation (24 States); AND further, in the FCT, Abuja. This is a compulsory requirement for a valid return as President. It seems to me that INEC was not properly legally guided when it declared a President-elect. The Nichodemus announcement and declaration was obviously too hasty, premature and rash.


A great writer (Onwa Nnobi) was most apt when he stated:


“If 5 credits AND English Language are prerequisite to gaining admission into a higher school of Learning; and you make 10As in 10 subjects, but get F9 in English Language, does it qualify you for admission? It is not just commonsense and logic. It is incontrovertible”. I cannot give a better example. But, let me try two more examples of mine: 


If I request to see 24 Corpers in my law firm AND OKON, it means I want to see 25 persons in all; but Okon must be one of the 25 persons. So if 24 or 25 persons in my law firm show up, without Okon, have I had all the persons I wanted to see? The answer is NO. To satisfy my request, Okon must show up in addition to the 24, thus making the 25 persons I desire to see. Okon is a Constant; 24 Corpers is a variable. The variables must be worked by BODMAS-Rule to find the constant. 


As a second example, if I tell my dear wife to treat Andrew (my ward living with us) “like my son”, does that really make Andrew my biological son? I think not. Let me end this piece in response to Ajulo’s apophthegym of the “unwrinkled face (which) is not good for a resounding slap” with some words of advice.


Ajulo ought to know, from the deep recesses of his conscience and inner mind that what we witnessed on 25th February, 2023, was not democracy in practice. Abraham Lincoln, who made his famous Gettysburg speech on 19th November, 1863, had described democracy as government of the people, for the people and by the people. He must be turning in his centuries-old grave. The last election was nothing but a sham and shambolic election of “first-kill-maim-allocate-thumbprint-ballot-papers-select-and-win-at-all-cost-and-let-them-go-to-court”. It was not democracy, but “electionocracy” and “selectocracy” in action.


The new refrain in town has since become “GO TO COURT”; an obvious addition to our warped political lexicon. The election in my humble view, was the shame of a country that has been held down for decades by the jugular by insensitive and insensate elite state captors. It was a purported election in which a supposed Nigerian president-elect allegedly scored 8,795,721 (only about 9.409% of the registered 93.40 million voters). And WITHOUT THE FCT, Abuja! So, that means less than 3.998% of the entire population of the Nigerian people comprising of 220.075.973 million people as at 27th March, 2023- the very people he seeks to govern! That is a mere 454,163 votes more than Chief Abiola’s votes scored about 30 years ago, when Nigeria’s population was only 102.8 million people. It was virtually half of President Buhari’s 15,191,847 votes in 2019; and even far less than the votes of the then runner-up, Atiku Abubakar, which was 11,262,928. What an election! If Ajulo does not recognize this odorous putrefaction and stone-age retrogression, in our electoral system, then it is him, more than any other lawyer, that belongs to one of the “senior lawyers” he so derogatively, perjuratively and derisively referred to as those who “give certain legal opinions that they do not believe in, just because they have been tainted by politics”. I totally agree with his conclusion that “it is the common man on the street that suffers this dangerous game of deliberate obfuscation and misinterpretation of our laws”. Welldone. Mercifully, I am very proud to announce to Ajulo and others that going by my very well known antecedents which are self-evident (simply google me), I do not belong to such a lowly class of ego-masseurs. I am certainly not one of those cheap obsequious fawners, brown-nosers, or toady characters that hang around political merchants and buccaneers of corridors of power. Not being a card-carrying member of any of our existing political parties, I am simply a patriotic Pan-Nigerian who interrogates issues and speaks truth to authority and power, with history and posterity as my goal. My parting proverb to Ajulo, more in the form of an anecdote or epigram, is this: 


Once upon a time, an exuberant youth beat his drum so loudly, proudly, ceaselessly and fascinatingly with such reverberating noise that an elderly man sitting nearby told him to reduce the noise. The youth told him pointedly that he bought the drum with a huge sum of money. He exhibitionistly announced the name of the rare drum. The elderly man smiled, shook his greying head slowly, and calmly told the young man the name of the very animal whose skin was used to make the drum. Let us watch our words and actions, no matter how trying and tormenting the times are.


- By Prof. Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D., LL.D, D.Litt.

 *(Read and understand why Tinubu needs to get 25% of votes in Abuja.)*


INTRODUCTION


In an article titled, “Presidency: Supreme Court has resolved FCT 25% quandary: (https:// the eagleonline.com.ng), my younger friend, Dr Kayode Ajulo, specifically mentioned my name (amongst other senior lawyers), whom he respectfully referred to as “revered to be authorities in their fields”. He even generously described us as “legends of Inner Bar (who are) jurists who have become oracles of constitutional law whose names have refused to leave the pages of law reports”. I thank Ajulo for his kind effusive words of praises and adulation.


Were this kind recognition all he said about me and the other “oracles of constitutional law”, I would not have bothered to write this rejoinder. But, he soon thereafter most unfairly descended on us with unrestrained upbraiding as follows: 


“And when they lend their respected voices to public issues, their words are taken as gospel by laymen who lack the qualification and the intellectual rigour to interrogate their opinions of these senior lawyers as Yeah and Amen”.


“However, this electioneering season has been an eye opening one for some of us. It has been a season of unraveling and miracles as to how some legal professionals have, either by deliberate action or absence of proper research, interpret one of the simplest provisions in our Constitution as regards election to the Office of the President and requirements of the candidate for that highest  public office in the land”.


“We have seen those that should know and those who have held exalted and enviable positions hold curious opinions on Constitutional issues that embarrass our industry and harass ones intellect”.


“For some of them, politics have been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class. But this is a dangerous mix. There is politics, and there is law. While they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues that affect the nationhood of the country and the collective development of her citizens”.


This write-up of mine should, therefore, be seen as my RIGHT OF REPLY of (see section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as altered). I honestly believe Dr Ajulo went too far in categorizing all senior lawyers whose views are not in tandem with his as holding “curious opinions”, either “by deliberate action or lack of proper research”. He also accused us of being tainted by partisanship or politics, merely for expressing our views. And to think that such views to him constitute “curious opinions on constitutional issues that embarrass our industry and harass our intellect”, was far too rude, self-opinionated and too vainglorious to be swept under the carpet. He erroneously (perhaps, arrogantly), elevated his personal views over and above all others’. Where is that coming from? Narcissism? Politics? godfatherism? I do not know. Or, do you?  The truth is that it is, rather, Ajulo’s views that were not only political, but heavily politicised. His entire piece read like a piece of a political party’s manifesto. It failed woefully to exhibit the attributes of the rigours and intellectual breadth and depth of scholarly research which he so gleefully talked about in his needless diatribe.






My simple take on this is that when a debate on a serious controversial national issue gets to a crescendo such as we now have it, various dimensions of and opinions on the issue under discourse must be vigorously pursued, explored and interrogated. Consequently, as regards this raging ruckus and scrimmage as to whether the 25% votes required by S.134 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution ( as amended) is applicable to the FCT, Abuja, I have now decided to navigate further, some uncharted routes, by going mathematical to find X. This will surely emphasize to Ajulo, and others who hold similar or same views as his, that this matter is not just about to go away, or be buried, or swept under the mat, until it is, perhaps, finally laid to rest by the Supreme Court. Even at that, Scholars and Analysts will, for centuries to come, still interrogate it, in the same way, that the debate over the case of AWOLOWO V. SHAGARI & 2 Ors (1979) LPELR-653 (SC), still rages till date (44 years later!).   


Contrary to the simplistic and cavalier manner with which Ajulo dismissed the 25% compulsory requirement (even while paradoxically also extensively discussing it himself), it will not vanish into thin air just like that! He gravely errs in thinking that the debate is simply about how to “interpret one of the simplest provisions in our Constitution”. We must tackle it headlong. Let us therefore now take the argument further. I have always believed that it is in the clash of ideas that the truth- the naked truth– finally emerges.


There is no doubt that the provisions of section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution is rooted in mathematics. It requires that a winning presidential candidate shall have “not less than one-quarter of the votes at the election in each of at least two-third of all the states in the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory Abuja”. (Emphasis supplied).


As lawyers, we should not shy away from embarking on this mathematical pathway to resolve the steaming controversy. Yes, mathematics is part of lawyers’ job in resolving disputes; and Nigerian courts are not strangers to mathematical judgments. Afterall, the 1979 Presidential Election involving Shagari and Awolowo was wholly litigated, won and lost on the basis of the Supreme Court’s mathematical interpretation of what amounted then to 2/3 of the then 19 states of the Federation. The Supreme Court, in delivering judgment in favour of Shagari, ruled that the requirement of votes to win the Presidential election was 25% in 12 states, and no more. It cautiously avoided the attendant fractionalization of Kano State, so as to avoid absurdity in interpretation. My deep research has just thrown up a judgment where the court was called upon to interpret and translate 1.00 to percentage. The Honourable Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of the National Industrial Court, in resolving the mathematical legal question, held that “1.00 of an amount means one whole number and not a fraction; and when converted to percentage, it means 100% and not 1%”. See “https://guardian.ng/features” law Court rules that 1.00 base salary to mean 100% in mathematical judgment” – The Guardian 26th November, 2019). 


Let me therefore state very clearly here, that contrary to what is being peddled by many commentators as purportedly settled judicial decisions on the status of FCT, Abuja (many of them critiquing my earlier write-up (see www.”ruebenabati.com.na-(opinion)- The 25% of FCT, Abuja conundrum-Mike-Ozekhome; Barristering.ng.com”) such decisions are not authorities for the very recondite and recherch├ę issue posed by the 2023 Presidential Election results, which border on mathematical interpretation of the provisions of section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, regarding the required percentage of votes which must be secured by a candidate in the Presidential Election in relation to the 36 states of the Federation and FCT, Abuja. There is no known judicial authority which has decided and settled this abstruse, arcane and enigmatic legal puzzle which is similar to the one that was thrown up in the aftermath of the 1979 Presidential Election. But that era differs remarkably from the current scenario, as, unlike section 126(2) of the 1979 Constitution which ended with 2/3 of all the states in the Federation, the 1999 Constitution added a fresh, rider, “And the FCT, Abuja”. Both the 1979 Constitution and the unused Babangida’s 1989 Constitution never added FCT, Abuja, since although same was created by Decree No. 6 of 1976, on February 5, 1976, by the assassinated General Muritala Mohammed, it came into existence on December 12, 1991, after the 1979 Constitution had been promulgated; but before the 1989 Babangida Constitution which never saw the light of day.


There is also no doubt that the FCT, Abuja, is not, strict sensu, a State (it has no State-like governance structure). However, by S.299 of the 1999 Constitution and many judicial decisions, it is “to be treated as a State“:  See BABA-PANYA V. PRESIDENT FRN (2018) 15NWLR (Pt 1643)423; BAKAR V. OGUNDIPE (2021) 5 NWLR (Pt 1768) 9. A Community reading of section 2(2), 3(1)(4), 134(2)(b), 297, 298, 299, 301 and 302 of the 1999 Constitution shows that the FCT is accorded a special status as quite distinct from that of a normal state; notwithstanding that it is to be “treated as a state”.  


In dealing with this my new vista which now takes on a mathematical dimension, there are agreed parameters to note and apply, as answering  a mathematical question requires patiently adopting  methodical approach, using certain  laid down formula. This is what is called ‘operation show your work before putting QED on your answer’. The mathematical question thus posed by S.134 (2)(b) of the Constitution is this: what does it mean when it requires a winner of the presidential election to secure not less than (i.e at least) 1/4 ( 25%) of votes  in each of at least 2/3 of all the states in the Federation (36 states) AND the FCT, Abuja? The first step is to note that there are two parts- the variable and constant figures. In mathematics, while constant is a fixed figure, variable figures are imprecise. But, the variables must, nonetheless be ascertained before proceeding to conclude or ascribe a fixed figure in a given arithmetical equation. It is this inability to ascertain the variable figure that usually makes some students afraid of, and intimidated by, mathematics. In the end, they always failed to find X (the constant), with the resultant hatred for mathematics. To find X, the variable figure must be worked out and ascertained in a fixed figure, such as the constant figure. 


It is clear that while “2/3 of all the states in the Federation” is the variable figure, which if worked out would give 24 states and thus become a constant figure, the “FCT, Abuja”, is always the constant figure, which stands as 1. 


Working out the equation to show that the two parts (both variable and constant figures) are separate and distinct in their respective values must be applicable to the 25% votes requirement. This would be subjected to the BODMAS (Bracket, Order of power or roots, Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction) Rule. This Rule is employed to explain the order of operation of mathematical expression. 


Here, Bracket plays the role of “AND”, which serves as coordinating conjunctive verb in English syntax, to ascertain the two parts separated by bracket: See BUHARI v. INEC (2008) 19NWLR (Pt 1120) 246 (for the definition “And”); and EYISI & ORS V. STATE (200) LPELR-1186 (SC) (for the definition of “Each”).


In applying this formulae: 


The number of states =36;


2/3 of 36 as variable =24; 


FCT, Abuja as constant =1


So, the 25% of 24 States AND FCT, Abuja (1), will be expressed as: 25 % (24)(1) in mathematics. This is interpreted in English as 25% of 24 and 1, but not 25. The 24 represents states, while 1 represents FCT, Abuja. 


The intention of the lawmaker is quite clear here. 


The FCT, Abuja, is the seat of power of the Nigerian leadership. It is a cosmopolitan convergence of all federating units of the nation. It is to be merely treated like a State; but not as a State for the strange purpose of counting the total number of States to become 37 instead of 36 States and the FCT, Abuja, as wrongly argued by some analysts. The FCT, Abuja, is the political nerve centre of Nigeria. It has been imbued with such a special status as a miniature Nigeria in such a way that any elected president must have to compulsorily win the required 25% vote in the FCT, Abuja, after winning 25% votes in 24 States.


The reasons for this are not far-fetched. FCT, Abuja, is the melting pot which unites all ethnic groups, tribes, religions, people of variegate backgrounds; and other distinct qualities and characteristics in our pluralistic society. It is indeed a multi-diverse and multi-faceted conglomerate of the different and distinct peoples of Nigeria, which according to Prof Onigu Otite, has about 474 ethnic groups which speak over 350 languages. The FCT, Abuja, is thus regarded as the “Centre of Unity”, which is a testament to its inclusiveness of all tribes, religions, ethnic groups, languages; and peoples of different backgrounds. Simply put, FCT, Abuja, is a territory or land mass that is made up of individuals from every State and virtually from all the Local Government Areas in the country. It is itself made up of 6 Area Councils, quite distinct from the 768 LGAs in Nigeria, thus bringing the total to 774 LGCs in Nigeria. Consequently, scoring 25% of votes cast in the FCT, Abuja, is a Presidential candidate’s testament to being widely accepted by majority of the Nigerian people. The President is not expected to be a tenant in his seat of power. Will he pay rent to the 24 states he scored 25% votes? I do not know. Or, do you?


The framers of the 1999 Constitution certainly desired for Nigeria, a President that is widely accepted, with national spread; and not one that is a regional kingpin with support only from of his tribe, region, or ethnic group. The provisions contained in section 134 of the 1999 Constitution are meant to reflect this. In the same vein, the framers of the 1999 Constitution viewed the FCT, Abuja, as a melting pot; a sort of mini-Nigeria. Thus, like a commentator aptly posited, the position or status of the FCT, Abuja, assumes that of a COMPULSORY question that a presidential candidate must ANSWER in the electoral examination. With the FCT, Abuja, serving as the seat of the Federal Government-with all ministries and MDAs situated in it – it represents a Dolly Parton’s “Coat of many colours”. This is why the Federal Character provided for in sections 14(3),(4); 153(1); and 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution is also reflected in the administration of FCT, even though the Gbagyis are the original Aborigines of the FCT.


The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the above is that sections 134 (2)(b) and 299 are not mutually exclusive or contradictory, as some commentators posit. Rather, section 299 actually supports and complements section 134. 


Whether FCT, Abuja, is regarded as a super-state, full State, pseudo-State, quasi-State, or semi-State, is to me, immaterial. Even if it is none of these, what matters is the clear intention of the Constitution-makers. 


Had the law makers intended that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, will be treated simply as a “State” and no more in section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution, they would have simply stopped there. There was no need to specifically add the new phrase, “AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”, as in section 134(2)(b). The Constitution would simply have provided for “two-thirds of all the States in the Federation”, and stopped there. But, it did not. 


From a historical perspective (I am a student of history), recall that the AWOLOWO V. SHAGARI case and section 299 of the 1999 Constitution which states that its provisions shall apply to the FCT, Abuja, “as if it were one of the states of the Federation; including the BABA PANYA and BAKARI cases (supra), often cited with ├ęclat, but out of context, did not deal with the issue of elections, or what percentage of the votes was expected of a presidential candidate. They merely dealt with the issues that were presented in those cases. No more. It is trite law that a case is only an authority for what its peculiar facts present: BABATUNDE v. PASTA (2007) 13 NWLR pt. 1050 pg. 113 @ 157; ADEGOKE MOTORS v. ADESANYA (1989) 3 NWLR (pt. 109) pg. 250; UWUA UDO v. THE STATE SC. 511/2014; SKYE BANK PLC. & ANOR. V. CHIEF MOSES BOLANLE AKINPEJU (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt LL98) 179; OKAFOR V. NNAIFE (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt 64)129; PDP V. INEC & ORS (2018) LPELR-44373(SC); LAGOS STATE GOVT. & ORS V. ABDULKAREEM & ORS (2022) LPELR-58517 (SC); ILA ENTERPRISES LTD & ANOR V. UMAR ALI & CO. NIG LTD (2022) LPELR-75806 (SC).


For example, when section 48 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the “Senate shall consist of three Senators from each state AND one from the FCT, Abuja”, why didn’t these canvassers of FCT, Abuja, being merely a state, argue that once we have three Senators from “each state”, we should discard the “AND” which gives one Senator to the FCT, Abuja, and thus deprive the FCT, Abuja, of its Senator? This provision is one amongst several others which shows that the FCT, Abuja, is to be treated distinctly and separately from the other 24 states. There is no ambiguity in section 134(2)(b) such as to bring in aid, existing canons of statutory interpretation, such as the “Golden Rule”, “Mischief Rule”, etc. It is axiomatic that all sections of the Constitution must be wholly and holistically construed together so as to avoid leaving out some portions, or rendering them nugatory. See THE ESTATE OF ALHAJI N.B. SOULE v. OLUSEYE JOHNSON & CO & ANOR (1974) LPELR-3169 (SC). The reason is that law makers are presumed not to use superfluous, otiose or extravagant words in provisions of the Constitution or statutes which they make.


CONCLUSION


It is my considered opinion that the scope of consideration of the FCT, Abuja, as a state, only applies to the enjoyment and vesting of Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers by relevant bodies in the FCT. It does not apply to all matters, extents, and for all purposes. Further, an interpretation that Section 299 of the Constitution applies for all purposes is too narrow. It is not holistic or inclusive. It will render many other parts of the Constitution redundant, futile, unproductive, meaningless and therefore, unnecessary. Certainly, such could not have been the intention of the Legislature or law makers. 


Section 134(2) of the Constitution must therefore be interpreted to mean that for a candidate to win the Presidential election, such a candidate must obtain 25% of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the States in the Federation (24 States); AND further, in the FCT, Abuja. This is a compulsory requirement for a valid return as President. It seems to me that INEC was not properly legally guided when it declared a President-elect. The Nichodemus announcement and declaration was obviously too hasty, premature and rash.


A great writer (Onwa Nnobi) was most apt when he stated:


“If 5 credits AND English Language are prerequisite to gaining admission into a higher school of Learning; and you make 10As in 10 subjects, but get F9 in English Language, does it qualify you for admission? It is not just commonsense and logic. It is incontrovertible”. I cannot give a better example. But, let me try two more examples of mine: 


If I request to see 24 Corpers in my law firm AND OKON, it means I want to see 25 persons in all; but Okon must be one of the 25 persons. So if 24 or 25 persons in my law firm show up, without Okon, have I had all the persons I wanted to see? The answer is NO. To satisfy my request, Okon must show up in addition to the 24, thus making the 25 persons I desire to see. Okon is a Constant; 24 Corpers is a variable. The variables must be worked by BODMAS-Rule to find the constant. 


As a second example, if I tell my dear wife to treat Andrew (my ward living with us) “like my son”, does that really make Andrew my biological son? I think not. Let me end this piece in response to Ajulo’s apophthegym of the “unwrinkled face (which) is not good for a resounding slap” with some words of advice.


Ajulo ought to know, from the deep recesses of his conscience and inner mind that what we witnessed on 25th February, 2023, was not democracy in practice. Abraham Lincoln, who made his famous Gettysburg speech on 19th November, 1863, had described democracy as government of the people, for the people and by the people. He must be turning in his centuries-old grave. The last election was nothing but a sham and shambolic election of “first-kill-maim-allocate-thumbprint-ballot-papers-select-and-win-at-all-cost-and-let-them-go-to-court”. It was not democracy, but “electionocracy” and “selectocracy” in action.


The new refrain in town has since become “GO TO COURT”; an obvious addition to our warped political lexicon. The election in my humble view, was the shame of a country that has been held down for decades by the jugular by insensitive and insensate elite state captors. It was a purported election in which a supposed Nigerian president-elect allegedly scored 8,795,721 (only about 9.409% of the registered 93.40 million voters). And WITHOUT THE FCT, Abuja! So, that means less than 3.998% of the entire population of the Nigerian people comprising of 220.075.973 million people as at 27th March, 2023- the very people he seeks to govern! That is a mere 454,163 votes more than Chief Abiola’s votes scored about 30 years ago, when Nigeria’s population was only 102.8 million people. It was virtually half of President Buhari’s 15,191,847 votes in 2019; and even far less than the votes of the then runner-up, Atiku Abubakar, which was 11,262,928. What an election! If Ajulo does not recognize this odorous putrefaction and stone-age retrogression, in our electoral system, then it is him, more than any other lawyer, that belongs to one of the “senior lawyers” he so derogatively, perjuratively and derisively referred to as those who “give certain legal opinions that they do not believe in, just because they have been tainted by politics”. I totally agree with his conclusion that “it is the common man on the street that suffers this dangerous game of deliberate obfuscation and misinterpretation of our laws”. Welldone. Mercifully, I am very proud to announce to Ajulo and others that going by my very well known antecedents which are self-evident (simply google me), I do not belong to such a lowly class of ego-masseurs. I am certainly not one of those cheap obsequious fawners, brown-nosers, or toady characters that hang around political merchants and buccaneers of corridors of power. Not being a card-carrying member of any of our existing political parties, I am simply a patriotic Pan-Nigerian who interrogates issues and speaks truth to authority and power, with history and posterity as my goal. My parting proverb to Ajulo, more in the form of an anecdote or epigram, is this: 


Once upon a time, an exuberant youth beat his drum so loudly, proudly, ceaselessly and fascinatingly with such reverberating noise that an elderly man sitting nearby told him to reduce the noise. The youth told him pointedly that he bought the drum with a huge sum of money. He exhibitionistly announced the name of the rare drum. The elderly man smiled, shook his greying head slowly, and calmly told the young man the name of the very animal whose skin was used to make the drum. Let us watch our words and actions, no matter how trying and tormenting the times are.


- By Prof. Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D., LL.D, D.Litt.

Sooner than may be expected, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will regain his freedom says Lead Counsel Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor

Sooner than may be expected, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will regain his freedom says Lead Counsel Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor


The lead Counsel to the incarcerated leader of Independent People Of Biafra ( IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu has said sooner than expected the IPOB leader will again his freedom.

Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor in a Press Statement Saturday in response to the IPOB suspension if sit at home Monday

He said: "Sooner than may be expected, the God's annointed, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, will regain his freedom. God is working it out."

The statement asked people to do away with propaganda, gossip, mischief, campaign of calumny and pay attention to messsges from recognized source(s).


READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:


PRESS STATEMENT:

I have observed with dismay, the avalanche of emails and messages from Umuchineke unanimously prodding for a clarification /confirmation on the highlights of the press statement issued by the leadership of our Client yesterday, suspending their Sit-at-home Order.

I cannot stop being shocked by the manifested lack of trust / disbelief expressed over the authenticity of the message.

There is therefore, an urgent need that facts are put in their proper perpectives.

We at the legal team are increasingly becoming embarrassed with the unfortunate manner in which some people, ostensibly moles, notorious for mischief, are deliberately dragging us into the decision making arm of the movement, a position which we never represent.

Responsive listeners / followers should always be smart to decipher the language methodology messages are being conveyed by their leadership at every point in time. You people call it C. and C.

Introducing insinuations, fundamentally unconnected with the intended motive only means you still have a long way to go.

In times like this, people should do away with propaganda, gossip, mischief, campaign of calumny and pay attention to messsges from recognized source(s).

For your information, if you are expecting me to write it, or answer your questions in black and white, perhaps in a manner that even my aged mother in the village will nod her head in appreciation of the content, then you are very far from getting it here.

An Igbo proverb says "atuolu omalu, omalu mana atuolu ofeke ofeyi isi na ofia".

I believe these few words should aid you further in understanding the direction we are driving at.

What Our Client - Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and we in the legal team, essentially need in this moment of legal fireworks is your prayers and supplications, and not insults /disparaging remarks.

We are under compelling obligation to be upright at all times, regularly update you people on things you need to hear from us regarding the happenings around Our Client.

We have unblemishly managed IPOB briefs for over a decade, despite every intimidating odds / life threatening situation, without recording any form of compromise. How do you now think we can deviate at this critical moment? Please be properly guided.

Sooner than may be expected, the God's annointed, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, will regain his freedom. God is working it out.

However, all hands must be on deck to see us realize this uncommon feat, within the shortest time possible. Ise.

Ka Chukwuokike Abiama mezie okwu nkea, ma goziekwa unu dum.

Ndewo Umuchineke.

Signed:
Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor,
Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu's Lead Counsel

The lead Counsel to the incarcerated leader of Independent People Of Biafra ( IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu has said sooner than expected the IPOB leader will again his freedom.

Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor in a Press Statement Saturday in response to the IPOB suspension if sit at home Monday

He said: "Sooner than may be expected, the God's annointed, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, will regain his freedom. God is working it out."

The statement asked people to do away with propaganda, gossip, mischief, campaign of calumny and pay attention to messsges from recognized source(s).


READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:


PRESS STATEMENT:

I have observed with dismay, the avalanche of emails and messages from Umuchineke unanimously prodding for a clarification /confirmation on the highlights of the press statement issued by the leadership of our Client yesterday, suspending their Sit-at-home Order.

I cannot stop being shocked by the manifested lack of trust / disbelief expressed over the authenticity of the message.

There is therefore, an urgent need that facts are put in their proper perpectives.

We at the legal team are increasingly becoming embarrassed with the unfortunate manner in which some people, ostensibly moles, notorious for mischief, are deliberately dragging us into the decision making arm of the movement, a position which we never represent.

Responsive listeners / followers should always be smart to decipher the language methodology messages are being conveyed by their leadership at every point in time. You people call it C. and C.

Introducing insinuations, fundamentally unconnected with the intended motive only means you still have a long way to go.

In times like this, people should do away with propaganda, gossip, mischief, campaign of calumny and pay attention to messsges from recognized source(s).

For your information, if you are expecting me to write it, or answer your questions in black and white, perhaps in a manner that even my aged mother in the village will nod her head in appreciation of the content, then you are very far from getting it here.

An Igbo proverb says "atuolu omalu, omalu mana atuolu ofeke ofeyi isi na ofia".

I believe these few words should aid you further in understanding the direction we are driving at.

What Our Client - Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and we in the legal team, essentially need in this moment of legal fireworks is your prayers and supplications, and not insults /disparaging remarks.

We are under compelling obligation to be upright at all times, regularly update you people on things you need to hear from us regarding the happenings around Our Client.

We have unblemishly managed IPOB briefs for over a decade, despite every intimidating odds / life threatening situation, without recording any form of compromise. How do you now think we can deviate at this critical moment? Please be properly guided.

Sooner than may be expected, the God's annointed, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, will regain his freedom. God is working it out.

However, all hands must be on deck to see us realize this uncommon feat, within the shortest time possible. Ise.

Ka Chukwuokike Abiama mezie okwu nkea, ma goziekwa unu dum.

Ndewo Umuchineke.

Signed:
Bar. Ifeanyi Ejiofor,
Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu's Lead Counsel

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