Nigerian opposition to review election documents

As opposition parties press ahead with attempts to overturn the election result, their chances of success are slim, experts say.


Image : Independent National Electoral Commission

Nigeria’s election commission agreed to hand over documents linked to last month’s disputed election to the opposition’s legal team on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s electoral body promised to release 7778 documents to Labour Party lawyers to prosecute its case challenging the outcome of the Presidential Election, local tv station Arise TV reported.

The decision followed a meeting between the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu and Labour Party lawyers.

“INEC has nothing to hide. Documents available at the HQ will be given immediately,” Yakubu said on Wednesday.

“We are meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners today and we will discuss how other documents at the state level could also be made available to you speedily,” he added.

The day before the announcement, defeated opposition candidate Peter Obi confirmed that he would be challenging INEC’s electoral process that declared Bola Tinubu the winner of the February 23rd race.

Slim chance

Never before have attempts by defeated opposition parties to overturn election results in Nigeria by contesting them in court succeeded.

Opposition lawyers are likely to root their case on Section 50 (2) of Nigeria’s 2022 Electoral Act, which states that results should be transmitted electronically, according to a procedure determined by the commission.

“The Labour Party and PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] hope to prove that INEC breached election law by not transmitting the results electronically,” says Harry Burns, an election strategist who works across the UK and Africa.

“They hope this, combined with the clear irregularities at many polling units (with figures being manually changed), will prove that the election result can’t be trusted and that it must be re-run.”

Opposition lawyers also hope to uncover evidence that voting machines – the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) – was tampered with – though there doesn’t seem to be evidence of this yet, Burns says.

“Chances are the APC [All Progressives Congress] will be declared the victors and Tinubu will be President, but whatever happens, the Labour Party appear to be here to stay and change may well be around the corner.”

Last week, Nigeria’s electoral commission postponed its gubernatorial elections until the 18th March, saying it needed more time to reconfigure the electronic machines used in last month’s election.

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