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Nigeria: Election tribunal upholds presidential poll results

September 6, 2023

President Bola Tinubu was elected in a closely contested poll in February. The losing candidates have challenged the results citing irregularities, but the court said the appeal was "unmeritorious."

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja
President Tinubu defended his victory and said focused on efforts to revitalize the economyImage: Sunday Aghaeze/Nigeria State House via AP/picture alliance

A Nigerian court dismissed on Wednesday an appeal by the country's opposition against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's February election victory, amid challenges from two defeated candidates. 

Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party and the Labour Party's Peter Obi, had claimed electoral law breaches, including a failure to use electronic machines to upload polling station results.

However, judges dismissed the claims as "unmeritorious." 

"It is clearly evident that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by law," said Haruna Tsammani, head of the panel. "They have not been able to leave any cogent, credible and acceptable evidence."

The decision is expected to head to the Supreme Court, where Abubakar and Obi can appeal within 60 days. The top court has never ruled to overturn a Nigerian presidential election since Nigeria's return to democracy from military rule in 1999.

What happened in the Nigeria election?

In a closely contested election on February 25, former Lagos governor Tinubu secured 37% of the votes, surpassing PDP's Atiku Abubakar and Labour's Peter Obi to become president.

Both the PDP and Labour in their separate lawsuits are demanding the poll results be dismissed and their respective candidates to be announced winners or for the court to call for a rerun.

In order to introduce more transparency, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) implemented biometric technology and IReV, a centralized system for real-time result uploads.

INEC admitted there were "glitches" but refuted allegations that the election was compromised.

Challenges for the Nigerian economy

Currently in India for the G20 Summit, President Tinubu defended his victory and said he is focused on efforts to revitalize the economy.

Tinubu inherited an ailing economy from his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari. Africa's most populous country is struggling with growth as it grapples with high unemployment, the highest inflation rate in two decades, record debt, and massive oil theft.

The president's efforts to address the issues, such as removing petrol subsidies and freeing up the naira currency, are facing stiff opposition.

Nigeria: What are the challenges for the new president?

ss/sms (Reuters, AFP)