(Bloomberg) -- The Nigerian opposition candidates that came second and third in last month’s presidential election filed court petitions contesting the result that saw the ruling party’s nominee emerge the winner.
Peter Obi and his Labour Party submitted their challenge to the outcome of the Feb. 25 vote to the Court of Appeal in the capital, Abuja, on March 20. Atiku Abubakar and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party filed their objection the following day. The electoral commission named the All Progressive Congress’s Bola Tinubu as the president-elect three weeks ago.
In a statement published on his campaign website on Tuesday, Tinubu said “the elections are over” and urged his party to “champion the healing process by embracing the opponents and their supporters.”
The Labour Party’s petition argues that the Independent Electoral Commission ran the vote in a manner that violated the law and the body’s own rule. It also alleges that Tinubu didn’t win a majority of the ballots cast.
Read more: Nigerian Ruling Party’s Bola Tinubu Wins Race for Presidency
If results from around the country had been “properly tabulated and calculated,” Obi would have won the presidential race, it said. Instead, the Labour Party’s “actual scores” have been “reduced, tampered and falsely represented” by the electoral commission, the party said.
Tinubu received 8.8 million votes, the official results showed, 1.8 million more than Abubakar and 2.7 million more than Obi.
Abubakar, who also says he won the election, submitted his challenge a day ahead of the deadline. Among the reasons he gives for why the court should rule Tinubu’s victory invalid are that the electoral commission failed to electronically transmit results from the polling stations in “real-time” as provided by the Electoral Act and the body’s own rules.
“The election failed the integrity test stipulated by the Electoral Act and does not reflect the will of the electorate,” Abubakar argued in his petition.
Previous efforts to overturn Nigerian presidential elections have been unsuccessful.
The court challenge won’t stop Tinubu from replacing President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of May after a three-month transition period. The court has 180 days to make a ruling, and parties can take their case to the Supreme Court if they are dissatisfied with the decision.
Several observer missions noted shortcomings in the planning and conduct of the presidential election, including the commission’s failure to transmit tally sheets from the almost 177,000 polling units in real time.
Lengthy delays in uploading the scores contributed “to diminishing public trust and confidence in results processing,” a European Union team said in a Feb. 27 report.
--With assistance from Mike Cohen.
(Updated with PDP petition details in seventh paragraph.)
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