Three opposition parties are calling for the election to be cancelled, as the ruling party candidate is in the lead, with results from 19 of 36 states announced.
Abuja, Nigeria – Three of Nigeria’s opposition parties have called for the cancellation of the February 25 presidential and parliamentary elections, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken the lead in the ongoing assembly process.
Preliminary results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states put APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu in the lead, ahead of Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labor Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
On Wednesday, the LP, PDP and African Democratic Congress called for fresh polls during a joint press conference held in the capital, Abuja, saying the wait for the announcement of the final result would be “like waiting to process a corpse”.
“We watched with dismay the travesty of democracy exhibited at the assembly center of INEC. It is, to put it mildly, a rape of democracy,” said Julius Abure, the LP chairman, alleging widespread manipulation.
“We are therefore forced to say that INEC compromised the integrity of the election even before the collation began… We have therefore come to the conclusion that the election has been irretrievably compromised.”
The parties also called on INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu to step down from his post and be replaced by “a credible person from outside the commission”.
“Election results are still being manipulated in government houses,” Abure alleged. “If you send your child to school and they fail the exam, they repeat the class. INEC has failed, he said. “The results announced by INEC so far show monumental differences between actual results reported by our party agents and actually millions of Nigerians on election day.”
“What we have seen is vote distribution and not collation,” added Dino Melaye, a PDP politician and former senator who moderated the press conference.
Since Saturday’s election, observers, voters and civil society leaders have complained about logistical challenges in conducting the polls and the slow pace of uploading results sheets from polling units to a new electronic portal designed to improve election transparency.
It has given room for the manipulation of results, say the critics, without giving any specific names so far.
“Compilation in Nigeria is a black hole – nothing that comes out can be trusted without means of verification,” Ayisha Osori, former executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, told Al Jazeera. “As a low-trust society, we welcomed the IReV (Results Viewing Portal) as a means of verifying the results of our polling units. Without this openness, results written by a few men become difficult to accept.”
Anthony Adejuwon, the leader of the Osogbo-based civil advocacy group, Urban Alert blamed INEC for the party’s agitation for the cancellation of the results.
“The uploading of results and iReV should give the election a boost of transparency,” he said. “And lack of transparency is the main reason behind the opposition parties’ agitation for cancellation.”
The APC has rejected the opposition’s claims, urging INEC to announce the result quickly to defuse the situation.
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday wrote an open letter addressed to outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that INEC officials had been compromised and the results manipulated.
He called on Buhari to “allow all elections that fail the credibility and transparency test to be annulled”.
“Let me appeal to the chairman of INEC, if his hands are clean, to save Nigeria from the looming danger and disaster just waiting to happen,” Obasanjo added.
Also on Monday, the EU observer mission said INEC “lacked effective planning and transparency during critical stages of the electoral process”.
The opposition also spoke of the need for Buhari to call off the disputed election, even as the nation waits for the results to be announced and there are growing concerns that there could be post-election violence.
“We do not want Nigerians to take the law into their hands and we representatives have the responsibility to take this action,” said former Nigerian Senate President Iyorchia Ayu, PDP chairman.
The APC said it was “particularly concerned” by what it described as “incitement to violence by some opposition spokesmen” and called on security forces to “immediately detain” such people.