INEC’s declaration of Buhari as winner unconstitutional says Prof. Nwabueze.
•Says action breached Nigeria’s law book
Former national secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor Ben Nwabueze yesterday said Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 election for the nation’s highest seat on account of votes cast in only the northern region is unconstitutional.
In a statement at the weekend, the foremost constitutional lawyer contended that the president’s emergence negates Section 134 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
According to the section, “a candidate for an election to the office of the president shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there are more than two candidates for the election – (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election, and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.”
The elder statesman went on: “President Buhari, APC and INEC could not have been unaware of this specific and important requirement of the constitution. A person to be declared the winner of the 2019 presidential election must, in addition to scoring the highest number of votes, also score at least 25 percent of the votes cast in each of not less than 24 states.
“The figures released by INEC for the 2019 presidential election in Nigeria show that, out of the estimated population of 180 million, only 28,614,190 people voted at the election. Surely, 28,614,190 cannot meaningfully be regarded as constituting the people. Viewed in this light, democracy may perhaps not unfairly be described, as do Karl Marx and his school of thought, but a pretense and a sham, a facade behind which the real rule is exercised by some oligarchy.”
“The INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, owes it as a duty to Nigerians to certify by a formal declaration that the requirement of Section 134 (2)(b) of the constitution has been satisfied and that Buhari scored at least 25 percent of the votes cast in each of at least five states outside the 19 states in the North.”
Describing the action of the electoral body as invalid in law, Nwabueze flayed the poll organisers noting: “The inference to be drawn from this is that INEC is not an independent electoral umpire, and could not be so, so long as its members are appointed and may, subject to some safeguards, be removed, by a president who is a candidate desperately seeking re-election for a second term in office.
“In that kind of situation, its independence is compromised and its impartiality and neutrality tainted. It cannot conduct a free, fair and credible election, and a presidential election it conducts, under those circumstances, is invalid.”
The legal luminary further stated: “The other disquieting implication of the result is that no Nigerian who does not command the support of the voting population in the northern part of the country can ever win the presidency. Party solidarity, sheepishly observed, is part of the bane of this country. It blinds people to the national interest, and to the truth, too.”
Buhari, who flew the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket, polled 15,191,847 votes against the 11, 255,978 ballots got by his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
The incumbent president had won in 19 states to defeat 72 others, including the ex-vice president and Wazirin Adawama who emerged victorious in 17 states and the FCT.