Nigeria Opposition Goes To Court Over Election Result

Jonathan was declared winner of the April 16 election with 59 percent of the vote but his nearest rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who polled 32 percent, has refused to accept the outcome.

Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) filed a petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and against Jonathan in the capital Abuja on Sunday saying the vote had been marred by irregularities.

The party has said electoral commission computers were rigged to sway the count against Buhari, a northern Muslim, in parts of the north, and that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) vote was inflated in some of its southern strongholds.

“We are not quarrelling with voting. We are quarrelling with collation,” CPC chairman Tony Momoh told journalists shortly after filing the petition.

“We want the tribunal to nullify elections in those areas where there were flaws and conduct fresh elections in those areas,” he said.

Rioting erupted in largely Muslim opposition strongholds in the north after the victory of Jonathan, a Christian from the south, was announced. Churches, mosques, homes and shops were set ablaze and at least 500 people were killed.

But observers and most Nigerians say the vote was the most credible for decades in Africa’s most populous nation, which had experienced virtually nothing but military rule and rigged elections for the past half century.

Legal challenges marred the first few years in office of Jonathan’s predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, who came to power in 2007 elections deemed to have been among the country’s worst ever, undermining his ability to govern strongly.

The CPC’s challenge is unlikely to have as serious an impact on Jonathan as he looks to form a new cabinet after his inauguration at the end of the month.

The elections were broadly given a clean bill of health by international and local observers and Jonathan has pledged to form an “all-inclusive” government.

Although Buhari was ahead in almost all of the states in northern Nigeria, Jonathan also picked up millions of votes in the region, giving him a credible national mandate.

The PDP saw its parliamentary majority weaken in the elections and also lost control of several states in governorship races held 10 days after the presidential vote.

The candidate for the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party was on Saturday declared winner of the governorship election in the southeastern state of Imo, the final state to conclude its vote.

The result means the ruling PDP now controls 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states, down from 27 during the previous administration. Reuters