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Nigerian Opposition Demands Forensic Analysis of Presidential Poll

  • Peter Clottey

Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011

Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011

Officials with Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced this evening that President Goodluck Jonathan had prevailed over his main rival, General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

But the party’s secretary general is demanding a “forensic audit” of last Saturday’s presidential election saying the vote was rigged.

Buba Galadima said INEC failed to abide by the country’s Electoral Act, as enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution.

“In all these elections there are processes that must be followed as enunciated in the Electoral Act, in the constitution of the country, [but] none of these stages were followed by INEC itself. This is in complete contrast with what had happened last week in the national assembly [parliamentary] elections,” said Galadima.

“So, we felt that all these elections cannot stand. And if they insist that they have to count the results from the south-south and south-east, all the ballots must be subjected to forensic analysis so that we determine the authenticity of the ballot papers,” he added.

Galadima also said until a complete audit is conducted, his party will not accept the outcome of last Saturday’s presidential vote.

But many international monitors, including Professor Amos Sawyer, the head of the head of the mission for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), say the elections were for the most part transparent. Many opinion makers say they were among the best run polls since Nigeria returned to civilian rule over 10 years ago.

The country’s ruling party has a similar opinion.

Rufai Ahmed Alkali, spokesman for the ruling Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said changes had been introduced to reduce mistrust.

“What happened last Saturday was completely different from what used to happen,” he explained, when party officials freely went across the country from one polling site to another, amid opposition accusations of interference.

For this year’s polls, he said “in order to provide a level playing field for everybody, we [confined] ourselves to our own localities…We [agreed to this] because we don’t want to create any condition or any reason for somebody to subvert the process.”

“Before the elections, the president was very clear and categorical that he doesn’t want anybody to go and rig for him. And he was the person who came out with this clarion call of ‘one man, one vote’, ‘one woman, one vote’ and ‘one youth, one vote.’ Today, this is what has been used in this election, and everybody saw the results,” he added.

Meanwhile, riots broke out in the mainly Muslim north to protest the outcome of the polls.

Election officials announced Monday that Mr. Jonathan received more than 22 million (22,495,187) votes in Saturday's polls, nearly twice the number of his main challenger, Mr. Buhari, who garnered about 12 million (12,214,853).

Officials say Mr. Jonathan has met the requirements to avoid a run-off vote. A candidate must win a simple majority and at least a quarter of the vote in 24 states.

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