“The lapses that did occur were relatively few in number and were immaterial to the final outcome,” the declared winner said in a prepared statement.
“With each cycle of elections, we steadily perfect this process so vital to our democratic life,” he said. “Today, Nigeria stands tall as the giant of Africa. It shines even brighter as the continent’s biggest democracy.”
Charges of fraud
Opposition parties had walked out of the tabulation process Monday charging fraud and criminal intimidation of their voters.
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“We party agents are not here to rubber stamp the electoral fraud cooked up between INEC and the APC,” said Sen. Dino Melaye, spokesman for the People’s Democratic Party, according to Nigerian media reports.
“We have records [showing] where the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Systems [scanners that verify voter authenticity and upload results] were not used and yet the results have been announced,” Melaye said.
Obi’s Labour Party has vowed to fight the result in court. “We will sue for an annulment for sure. This is the worst election since Nigeria re-entered civilian rule in 1999,” Barrister Yakubu Bawa, a leader of Obi’s legal team, told CNA.
Bawa alleged that the voting results of polling units in Lagos State were stopped from uploading to the election commission server and that in Rivers and Delta States the tabulation results were falsified.
This year the election commission attempted to subvert fraud by setting up electronic voter identification through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System at the polling units and to upload the results from the polling units to avoid manipulation of paper ballot tallies.
But fraudsters found a way to work around the system, said Kunle Lawal, executive director of The Electoral College of Nigeria, an observer group in Lagos.
“Some ingenious Nigerian politicians were able to evade the electronic system due to the failure of the polling units to upload their results electronically. In many cases the signed and stamped voter tallies at the polling units differed from the results registered at the INEC collation center,” he told CNA.
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Election observers in the U.S. expressed cautious disapproval. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute faulted the government for disenfranchising many Nigerians, citing “logistical challenges” that could have been anticipated and avoided.
“Logistical failings caused late openings across the country, creating tensions, and the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling units given overcrowding,” according to the blue-ribbon panel of observers representing the Republican and Democrat parties in the United States. “The combined effect of these problems disenfranchised Nigerian voters in many parts of the country, although the scope and scale is currently unknown.”
There likely will not be enough evidence to annul the result, according to a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization that tracks human rights abuses in Nigeria.
“Will the election be annulled? Probably not. Unless Nigerians and the international observers unite to discover and report the truth, Nigeria’s democracy will be a façade,” Kyle Abts, executive director of the International Committee on Nigeria, told CNA.
“It is becoming clear that INEC was too lax in their approach to collecting and reporting votes. There are reports of ballot stuffing or missing ballot boxes along with polling stations never opening,” Abts added.
In the weeks leading up to the election, the nation’s Muslim leaders called upon believers to back the all-Muslim ticket of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, calling it a “political jihad.” All other leading parties were headed by tickets that balanced a Muslim candidate with a Christian candidate, an informal tradition encouraged by the nation’s constitution.