Nigeria's President Buhari Defends Election Win As Challenger Takes Him to Court

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar.
27 February 2019

After being declared winner of the Nigerian presidential election by a margin of 4 million votes, President Muhammadu Buhari said it was a free and fair win. The man who came second disagrees.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said it was "obvious" that the presidential election was "free and fair" as he called on his supporters "not to gloat or humiliate the opposition."

His losing opponent, Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president who campaigned to "make Nigeria work again," rejected what he called a "sham election" and said he would challenge the results in court.

"On election day, we saw the implementation of grand theft of the people's will," he added.

The election results:

Buhari received 15.1 million votes, or 55 percent of the vote. He won in 19 states, but most of his votes came from Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Kebbi.

Abubakar received 11.2 million, or 41 percent of the vote, and won in 17 states.

National turnout was 35.6 percent.

No congratulatory call

Abubakar said that if the vote had been fair, he would have called the president to concede immediately. Instead he alleged malpractice in many of Nigeria's 36 states.

"If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the north and the south," he said in a statement.

"In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping down their noses on the Nigerian people," Atiku said. "We will not allow democracy to be emasculated. I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy."

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election. Buhari himself lodged appeals in 2003, 2007 and 2011 but lost on all three occasions.

Saturday's election had been scheduled for the weekend before, but was stopped at the last minute. In the intervening week, 47 people were killed, according to the monitoring organization The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, which expressed concern over the conduct of the election.

(Reuters, AFP, AP)

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