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A former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Micheal Aondoakaa, SAN, said that for a person to be declared the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is constitutionally required to win 25% of votes in the Federal Capital Territory.

Aondoakaa, SAN, disclosed this in an interview with Arise TV on Friday. He mentioned that in a similar case in 2008, the Supreme Court interpreted the word “And” conjunctively making it a mandatory requirement for anyone aspiring to be the President of the Federation.

He mentioned that although the case was decided fourteen years ago, that was the current position of the law. He further added that it will be incumbent on the Supreme Court to re-interpret that section of the Constitution again. In his words “the Supreme Court has a right to defeat their previous decision or stand by it according to the doctrine of Stare Decisis”.

He was asked about the position and legality of INEC’s decision to abscond the electronic transmission of results as many Nigerians have expressed worry over the alleged breach by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the Electoral Act 2022 with respect to the electronic transmission of election results following Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

Answering the question, the learned silk has argued in line with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who had mentioned during plenary that what was passed into law was not what was followed by INEC. He mentioned that INEC violated its own guidelines. Saying that INEC sold all over the Country the real transmission of results from polling units to the server that can be seen by all to ensure transparency. The actions of INEC were even a violation of its own guidelines which he said have constitutional flavor.

“The Supreme Court is conscious about party following its own guidelines how much more INEC whose guidelines have a Constitutional Flavour” the learned silk had said. He further mentioned that:

“The Supreme Court has stated that even in party politics guidelines ought to be obeyed, how much INEC guidelines that flow from the Constitution. They will need to have a good reason to be told to the tribunals why they deviated from their guidelines and they must justify that deviating from that guidelines did not substantiate the results”

He further likened INEC’s actions to change the goalpost in the middle of the game which will be a serious issue to justify if it did not cause substantial damage to the results of the elections.

Asked what his thoughts were on the locus standi of the six states that filed an action in court challenging the transparency of the election at the Supreme Court. The former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation said that the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on the Naira redesign has set a precedence for the state to institute its actions. The Supreme Court has pointed out that the President is a principal of the Central Bank of Nigeria and he was to consult the States before the Naira redesign as it affects the entire country. Similarly, INEC is an agent of the Federal Government with the President as its principal and since this was an issue that affect the interest of the entire citizens of the Country then it would be difficult to say the States do not have jurisdiction over the matter. He further said that he would not be talking much on the matter as it is clearly within the purview of the Court for adjudication.

He was further asked if the President or the Central Bank will disobey the judgment of the Supreme Court this time around. He clearly emphasized that the Supreme Court has not stopped the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop the Naira Redesign. Instead, the Supreme Court has asked that the old and new Naira notes are to co-exist together until the 31st of December.

“It is a win-win situation for both the Federal Government and the Nigerian citizens as the Federal Government can continue with its redesign and the Nigerian Citizens can have access to cash’

This accentuated the fact that the Supreme Court is not just a court of law but also a policy court and it is expected that they operate within the system. Under that jurisprudence, they can be influenced by what happens in the country. “They are not from the moon” he had said.

“If the policy is one that creates injustice and erodes the fundamental human rights of citizens; they must be involved. If the Federal Government fails to comply it will be an invitation to anarchy. The Judgment did not affect the government’s right to redesign the money”

To wrap up the interview session, he was asked two quick questions on whether a company or person can sue the Central Bank and claim damages over lost due to the Naira Redesign saga and whether there was ever a Nigerian president in the history of the country who did not get over 25% votes in the Federal Country.

He mentioned the “Public Officers Protection Act’ which made a presumption of irregularities in carrying out duties by the public officer. Similarly, the Supreme Court did not say they were wrong for carrying out the duty of redesigning the naira notes, but instead that the old and new notes can co-exist. By this, the Supreme Court has shown it was on the side of the people and it would be an exercise in futility for a person to institute an action against the Central Bank.

On the history of a president who never had 25% of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, he stated that he did not know but he knows that the current position of the law is that a person must have at least 25% of votes in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory before he can be declared the President after the election.

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