Nigerian opposition candidates, who lost to Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), are challenging the results of last week’s presidential election and seeking for a rerun while supporting the resignation of INEC chairman.
In the West African country, opposition candidates claim that there were various irregularities in the election on Saturday and accuse INEC of rigging the results in the ruling party’s favour.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Peoples Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar claimed the election was rife with “manipulation and fraud.”
“The weekend election was neither free nor fair. Preliminary assessments indicate that it is the worst conducted elections since the return to democratic rule,” he said, adding that the results “must be challenged by all of us.”
Earlier, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who placed third in the presidential race, vowed to “explore all legal and peaceful options to reclaim our mandate. We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians.”
The voting procedure passed without a hitch, but Mohamed Basah, a vote observer based in Abuja, reported that problems began to arise after news reports of attacks on several polling places and ballot boxes being smashed.
“At the level of voting, we didn’t have much of an issue. Voters were credited and voting took place as it should have,” Basah said. “The issues began afterwards, because we now started hearing that places where people had voted, there were attacks. Of course, we were not everywhere, but we received reports from different parts of the country that ballot boxes were destroyed in certain places.”
Issues with new Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines were reported during voting, causing concern among observers.
Isaac Balami David, national deputy campaign manager for Obi, told newsmen outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari should intervene and INEC’s chairperson should step down.
“Mr. President should salvage his integrity that is being dragged through the mud. The chairman of INEC should do the needful. He has failed Nigerians and as our leadership from both PDP and Labor Party did conclude here today. There is need for the chairman to step down, step aside and allow a credible Nigerian who wants the best for this nation to take charge and deliver this entire process all over,” David said.
Iyorchia Ayu, chairperson of the PDP, echoed David’s sentiments.
“The overriding message is the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a free and fair election according to the laws of Nigeria as provided in the electoral act and in the guidelines of INEC, which stipulate very clearly in several sections that results of elections will be uploaded to the server from the polling units, and if that is not done, the results are null and void. INEC has violated that provision and therefore this result cannot stand,” Ayu said.
INEC responded to opposition claims by saying “contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the states point to a free, fair and credible process.” The commission also dismissed accusations that its electronic transmission system was used to rig votes.
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