/ 27 February 2023

Tense wait for Nigeria’s election results

Nigeria Elections 3
Fake results are circulating, vote rigging claims are mounting and tensions escalating as Nigerians wait for elections results. (Photo by Emmanuel Osodi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Violence, some technology glitches, malpractices and insecurity overshadowed the Nigerian elections, seen as the tightest since the end of military rule in 1999.

On Saturday, millions cast their votes for the president as well as members of the Senate and House of Representatives. 

More than 93 million people had registered to vote in Africa’s largest nation by population — 219 million.

The main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), alleged plots by some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of stalling the collation of results in some northern states including Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Zamfara.

“These desperate governors are allegedly pressuring and blackmailing INEC [Independent National Electoral Commission] officials to manipulate the results and transfer massive votes validly cast for the PDP and its presidential candidate, to the rejected APC and its presidential candidate,” the PDP stated.

Femi Fani-Kayode, a spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign, stated buoyantly, “As we wait for the results to be released by the INEC, I can tell you that it’s looking good for us.”

The Nigerian Police Force expressed worry over the circulation of fake election results on social media and other news platforms, which it noted was contrary to the policy and guidelines of the INEC.

“The police has perceived this trend as a calculated attempt to heat up the polity and possibly create post elections chaos,” said Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the national police spokesperson.

He said law enforcers regarded this as “disservice, unpatriotic and disinformation”. 

“The Nigeria police hereby warns those who are spreading these alleged/fake election results to desist from such mischievous acts and wait patiently for INEC’s official results, which are authentic and tenable,” the police spokesman cautioned.

Adejobi called for calm. He said the police force had re-enforced security strategies for the smooth conclusion of the general elections.

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), the umbrella body of registered parties, alleged vote rigging and irregularities, including glitches with the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines.

The organisation noted that INEC officials were accused of bypassing the use of the BVAS machines for accreditation in some parts of the country, especially in the North East and North West, leading to allegations of thumb-printing and stuffing of ballot boxes.

“Another very noticeable anomaly is on viral videos where clearly under-aged voters in some states were seen thumb-printing ballot papers in parts of the North,” said the CNPP secretary general, Willy Ezugwu.

He also raised concern at the use of violence to scare voters as well as vote-buying allegations in parts of the country throughout the presidential and national assembly elections on Saturday.

The CNPP is demanding that the electoral body exercise its powers under the law to cancel results of polling units where violence, vote buying or mass thumb-printing of ballot papers reportedly occurred.

“The current delay in announcing the results of the presidential election is even raising more suspicion that the INEC has an ulterior motive or is acting a script to produce a particular candidate other than the one voted for by Nigerians,” the CNPP stated.

Four candidates were frontrunners in the race to succeed Muhammadu Buhari, president since 2015 but ineligible because of term limits. These are Bola Tinubu of Buhari’s APC, ex-Deputy President Atiku Abubakar of the PDP as well former PDP governors Rabiu Kwankwaso and Peter Obi of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and Labour Party respectively.

The INEC suspended elections in Enugu East after the murder of the Labour Party’s senatorial candidate, Oyibo Chukwu. The poll has been rescheduled for 11 March.

“We take full responsibility for the problems and regret the distress that they have caused the candidates, political parties and the electorate,” said Festus Okoye, the INEC chairperson for the information and voter education committee.

Under the Constitution, Buhari must transfer power on 29 May 29.

This story was first published by CAJ News.