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Nigerian Opposition Party Challenges Election in Court


Nigeria's main opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party says it is heading to court to challenge the outcome of last weekend's presidential ballot. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports this is one strategy the opposition hopes to use to overturn the results of a widely criticized election.

The All Nigeria Peoples Party says the courts remain its best hope for a fair deal after last weekend's flawed elections. Party chairman Edwin Ume-Ezeoke told reporters in the capital Abuja that the party is confident of victory.

"We are going to the court to defend our victory because we won the election," he said. "We are going to court to ask for the restoration of our victory because we won it, and the PDP [ruling Peoples Democratic Party] and its INEC [Independent National Electoral Commission] gave it to Yar'Adua."

Politicians dissatisfied with the elections have 30 days to file complaints before election tribunals.

The other main opposition loser, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is also certain to pursue a legal challenge to the poll.

The ANPP's presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, initially ruled out going to court. He won 6.6 million votes in the presidential vote, well behind ruling party winner Umaru Yar'Adua with more than 24 million.

Buhari ran on the ANPP ticket in the 2003 presidential ballot and lost to President Olusegun Obasanjo after a vote marred by rigging and violence. The country's Supreme Court rejected his challenge in 2005.

A coalition of 20 opposition parties on Wednesday called for the dissolution of the electoral commission, the removal of the police chief and new elections.

Foreign and domestic observers who monitored the polls reported cases of rigging, ballot stuffing, intimidation and violence.

The electoral commission is scheduled to conduct elections for the governorship seat in Southeastern Imo state and legislative elections across more than 20 states on Saturday.

Those elections were postponed because some candidates' names were left off last weekend's ballots.

Nigeria conducted gubernatorial and state assembly polls on April 14, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections on April 21.

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