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Nigeria election 'a sham'

VICTORY SALUTE: Buhari acknowledges his supporters after winning the right to rule for another term

MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S re-election as President of Nigeria has been rejected by his main opponent.

Buhari defeated former vicepresident Atiku Abubakar, to win the right to rule.

The 76-year-old’s APC (All Progressives Congress) party received 15.2 million votes to beat the People’s Democratic Party, who had 11.3 million votes. The turnout was 35.6 per cent compared to 44 per cent in 2015, the electoral commission said.

But Abubakar, 72, has rejected the result, describing the election as a sham and announced that he will be launching a legal challenge.

He wrote on Twitter: “I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court.

“I want to assure my supporters and the entire Nigerian people that, together, we will not allow democracy to be emasculated.”

COURAGE

He added: “I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy. That is the only way we can move away from being the world headquarters for extreme poverty.”

Speaking after securing a second four-year term, Buhari thanked his supporters and appealed to them not to gloat or humiliate the opposition.

“I thank the millions of Nigerians who voted to re-elect me as your president for the next four years.

“I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful to you for judging me worthy of continuing to serve you and for your peaceful conduct,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added: “We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out.”

While the election process was subject to delays as a result of violence and has been surrounded by claims of rigging, election fraud has not been identified by independent observers.

Chief justice Walter Onnoghen, the supreme court head whose jurisdiction included electoral disputes, was suspended from the role by Buhari just weeks before the election. Critics have argued that the decision was timed to protect the APC from losing any post election legal challenges.

Buhari expressed sadness at the loss of life that occurred during the lead up to voting, but described Saturday’s elections as “relatively peaceful”.

Two of the key issues in Nigeria that featured prominently in the elections were insecurity and corruption.

PROFIT

Ordinary Nigerians say are tired of politicians amassing huge riches while holding public office.

The former military dictator appeared to profit in the vote from his public image of having strong morals.

The majority of Buhari’s votes came from four of Nigeria’s 36 states: Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Kebbi.

The states have consistently given huge electoral support to Buhari since his first attempt at becoming civilian president in 2003.

Together the states contributed 4.2 million votes – about a quarter of Buhari’s total number. However, local election observers claimed they had witnessed irregularities and violence during voting.

Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network said that many Nigerians were disappointed with the elections. He said: “The numbers alone are indicting.

“We have already witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country.

“We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”


PICTURED: Atiku Abubakar

In 2015, Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, called his opponent within hours to congratulate him, but Atiku insists he will not take a similar action.

FAIR

He said in a statement: “If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the north and the south.

“In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping down their noses on the Nigerian people.

“We will not allow democracy to be emasculated. I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy.”

Legal challenges to election results are not new in Nigeria. Buhari fought earlier election losses for months without success.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election. The president’s followers and aides said they expected a challenge.

“There’s no opposition that will roll over and play dead,” said Hameed Ali, a member of Buhari’s ruling party.

If Atiku’s legal challenge is successful, he will be the first person to upturn a presidential poll in the country.

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