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Prof Wokocha: There Are 3 Rules Of Interpretation The Court Can Apply When Judging On 25% FCT Votes



Prof Wokocha: There Are 3 Rules Of Interpretation The Court Can Apply When Judging On 25% FCT Votes

As the content of the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Labour Party (LP) challenging the outcome of the just-concluded presidential election continue to occupy the front burner of public debate, renowned lawyer and public affairs analyst, Professor Ritchard Wokocha has come out to explain the three rules that the Election Tribunal could use the ‘Golden, Literary, or Mischief’ rules of interpretation when trying to properly decipher what Section 134 of the National Constitution meant when it laid down the requirements for a candidate to be declared the winner. Continue Reading…

While appearing on PLUS TV’s ‘Plus Politics’ a few hours ago, Wokocha, who is a Professor of Law and Lecturer at Rivers State University, explained that the court would have to apply these three rules to get the right judgment on whether or not the Constitution requires a candidate to score 25 percent votes in the FCT to be declared the winner of a presidential election.

He said; “Section 134 (4b) of the Constitution is a provision that defines the scope of the territory of Nigeria that a candidate must win to be declared the winner. It says that a candidate must win at least two-thirds of each of the states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory. Now, in determining what the law is saying, there are three rules of interpretation that I am sure the court would want to abide by. First of all, there is the Golden Rule by which the interpretation is taken from the natural meaning of the sentence. If that does not help in reaching a decision that is clear and conclusive, then you have the Literal Rule, which is to take the letters and words by their English meaning and try to make sense of them. But if you do that and it doesn’t solve the problem because it is still capable of two interpretations, the last option, is the Mischief rule.

This requires that you take a critical look at the problem the legislature was trying to solve at the time it enacted the law. And the mischief that occurred and what happened differently that may have led the National Assembly to make it necessary to include the FCT is that under the 1979 Constitution, we did not have an FCT that was not part of a state. Lagos was a Federal Capital as well as a state. So, when the 1979 Constitution said two-thirds of all the states, then you have covered the entire territory of Nigeria. But under the 1999 Constitution, we now have 36 States and a Federal Capital Territory that is not part of any state. So, unless the votes in Abuja are not to be counted, you must include the FCT as part of the territory that a candidate must win to be declared president.” Continue Reading…

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