2023: Abuja is constitutionally recognised as state-Gbenga Adeoye
Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta
Dr Gbenga Adeoye, a Lawyer and development expert has said that the description of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as a state should generate no dust since that is how the Constitution so designated the country’s capital.
Dr Adeoye in a statement made available to journalists in Abeokuta on Friday said that it was important the record is straighten given the unnecessary controversy the discussion of Abuja having status of a state had generated in the wake of the February 25 presidential elections.
He said he was forced to contribute to the debate due to series of misinterpretations that had been given to the status of Abuja even by some respected legal luminaries.
Adeoye maintained that this however leave no scratch on the position of the Constitution according to section 299 which affirmed Abuja as one of the federating states.
He explained thus “I observed that 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”.
He went further to say that “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 as well as those who know the truth but because it will favour their perceived enemy and the President-elect, decided to be silent”
Adeoye, who is also a Chartered Accountant disclosed that the misinterpretation of this aspect of the Constitution could be due to lack of understanding of simple English, misapplication of rules of interpretation, deliberate twisting of the spirit and letters of the law for selfish reasons among others.
To lay to rest this argument and understand how to treat FCT, Abuja, the Lawyer urged everyone to read section 299 of the country’s constitution, which says “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..”.
Adeoye said “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”.