OPINION: There Is No Controversy That Abuja Is Like A State By Dr. Gbenga Adeoye
I observed since APC Presidential Candidate have been declared as President-Elect, both learned and educated Nigerians have written and openly expressed shocking opinions that is far from the law.
The most worrisome of this development is that Senior Advocates of Nigeria were part of those who misinterpreted the provisions of section 134 of the Constitution.
To my surprise, some even said, reading section 299 is not necessary when clearly the beginning of the Constitution subject all laws to the provisions of the Constitution where it stated clearly in section 1(3)that the Constitution is supreme and that any other law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void. That section will address any other Law including electoral act that may be cited by any other mischief-maker.
Having said that, it is important to state as follows:
Educated and learned men deliberately or ignorantly misinterpreted section 134 of the constitution
It is worrisome that some individuals have decided to deliberately misinterpret the provisions of section 134 of the Constitution where the Law was actually intending to ensure that Abuja is not forgotten simply because it is not a state because those who live therein are human beings with the same rights and duties like others, dwelling in any of the 36 states.
In fact, most government policies and projects that cover the country is usually with a caption as follows:
“One in each of the 36 states and Abuja”. Pure and simple.
Inclusion Of Abuja Like 37th In Calculating The Federating Units
Section 134 is so clear that it requires that 25% of 2/3 of states and Abuja is required for legitimacy of a president.
That section was merely stating that Abuja should be included when calculating 2/3 so that no one should stop at number 24 and conclude that it covers 2/3 of states.
After a careful review of the comments by many Nigerians and that includes those who should be teachers of Law; I came to a conclusion that there could be four different categories of people on the matter as stated below:
Those who do not know anything about law but are of the habit of repeating what some supposed experts in law have said, even when those experts are wrong.
Those who speak or express their own opinion as a result of ignorance, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Law
Those who know the truth but deliberately chose to mislead the people.
Those who know the truth but because it will favour their perceived enemy and the President-elect, decided to be silent.
Let me address each class of people as follows:
The first categories of people are to be ignored but if Nigerians chose not to ignore them, just simply ask them, ARE YOU A LAWYER OR A JUDGE?
The second categories of people are those who thought they are right. I have listened and read opinions from most of such persons and at the end, they even complicated the matter more with their opinions and authorities cited. For such people, they need prayers like the kind of prayer that Elisha prayed for his servant in II King Chapter 6 verse 17. Elisha observed that the boy was afraid of the soldiers from the King of Syria that were outside to capture Elisha whereas God has arranged the defence of His Prophet and there were horses and chariots of fire on the mountain all around Elisha. If not that God opened the eyes of that boy, he could have died in fear. I pray that those who do not understand the status of FCT, Abuja, may God open their eyes in Jesus name. Amen.
The third categories of people are common among learned men. Those who know the truth and decided to mislead the people. They are committing serious sin against God and against the people, because many will believe them. It could be a strategy to divert the attention of judges so that there could be confusion in the land but thank God, those saddled with responsibility of adjudicating in Presidential Election petition are the highest men and women on the bench. We must not destroy our country by saying they are corrupt because if we destroy that arm of government, the outside world will not respect our country and our judicial system. When judgement favours politicians, they praise the judiciary but when it is against them, they will conclude that the judges are corrupt .
This is double standard. Those who deliberately tell lies and pretend that it is the truth simply because it favours their clients are people that Nelson Mandela referred to as men who change their principles depending on whom they are dealing with, and they are not fit to lead.
Causes Of Misinterpretation
Ignorance and problem of understanding simple English.
Lack of Community reading
Misapplication of rules of interpretation
Deliberate twisting of the spirit and letters of the law
Seeking of popularity for expressing controversial opinion even IF it is baseless.
Disregard for Section 299 which clearly states that The Provisions of this Constitution shall apply to The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as if it were one of the states of the federation.
Let Us Set The Record Straight Legally
To understand how to treat FCT, Abuja, everyone must read section 299.
In my tweet of 7th March, 2023, I stated clearly on my handle @GACgbenga that there is no need for confusion but am surprised that many are still confused about this matter.
Let us read and enjoy the provisions of section 299 as it describe what FCT Abuja is :
The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation; and accordingly
This aspect was explicit, and it did not state the provisions of this section. It was clear and simple that it deals with the provisions of the constitution. (Before or after section 299) This is a general application. It means every aspect of the constitution.
The word accordingly was introduced after settling the general application of the Constitution that describes FCT as one of the states.
Accordingly, as introduced before the continuation of the matters stated under section 299(a) –(c) concerning Legislative Powers, Executive Powers and Judicial Powers could be replaced with any of the following words:
And as Such
In View of that
As a result of that.
For that reason
xiii. When a matter is well settled, then you bring in accordingly and for that reason when you want to apply that word.
Below are the few explanations of the function of accordingly as used in section 299.
In a way that is appropriate to the particular circumstances.
A word used in legal documents which means therefore
In view of the above simple explanation, the word 25% or ¼ of votes in 2/3 of states and Abuja means 25% of votes in 2/3 of 37 ( i.e. 36 State and FCT). It is so simple that no one should bring out any confusion.
I must also remind us of the mischief rule of interpretation which is to make it clear to the people that look, anywhere you see FCT, kindly treat it as if it is a state. The intention of the law not to exclude Abuja should therefore not be taken as to confer special powers on Abuja which will mean that if anyone should score 99% in 36 states and if he score less than 25% in Abuja, he did not win the election. That will be F9 for anyone to write down in WAEC exam and failure in Bar Final.
Are we going to say then that if anyone score less than 25% in 36 states and score 99% in Abuja, he has won? Definitely NOT. That is not the intention of the law. Or are we saying that if someone had 25% in 30 states but does not have 10% in Abuja, he is yet to meet the requirement of the law? CAPITAL NO.
This confusion should be buried now and no one should cause confusion anymore. Am surprised that some people still filed in their petition that 25% in Abuja is a must. How can anyone possibly think in that direction.?
Nigerians should do all we can to grow our democracy and to say that Nigeria is not making progress is to be a liar. The progress may be slow, but there is progress and the progress may not be in all aspect but in terms of democracy we are moving forward.
Many people may not be able to quantify the gains of a successful election but those that were mature enough in 1993 will understand that when election is conducted and result are announced and not annulled and to have experienced unbroken democracy from 1999 to 2023 is a testimony that worth celebration.
It implied that we have enjoyed democracy for 24 years without any break.
Having said that, let us celebrate the process. It may not be perfect but let us move on. Let us avoid saying things that will make Nigeria to go into flames or civil war and destructive protest.
Let us rather join hands with those that have won and if need be, let us challenge all grievance in court and whenever all matters are concluded in the respective courts of competent jurisdiction, let us see how we can achieve the following :
Stop Importation of Petroleum Products
Reduce interest rate to single digit
Generate enough Power for domestic and industrial use
Revive Technical Education
Build More rail lines
Provide Health Care for all.
Improve our Security
Draft a vision for Nigeria from Chapter II of the constitution
When subsidy is removed, how do we cushion the effect when prices of PMS goes up in the short run before it crashes as predicted.
How do we manage our reserve and the international value of Naira?
How do we ensure that ASUU Strike become a thing of the past.
Those who lost election, if they truly love Nigeria should bring their Agenda on board and join hands with the winners rather than desiring and making efforts for the winners to fail in Governance. Even at state levels, there is a need to join hands with winners of elections to develop all the states.
Without prejudice to the right of candidates to challenge the victory of those declared as winners, the love of the people should be the major priority.
For example, in my State, the battle is more or else between two brothers from the same Iperu Town in Ogun East and you wonder why they cannot come together and work for the progress of the state.
May God bless Nigeria and may this republic rewrite the history of Nigeria and return the glory of this land.
Dr. Gbenga Adeoye is a Lawyer, Tax Expert and Chartered Accountant, and he believes that development is hinged on the Quality of people in leadership.
He can be reached via e-mail on email@example.com
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