Nigeria tribunal to hear petitions on president’s election win

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Election tribunal starts discussing legal challenges to the February vote filed by the main opposition.

A panel of five judges at Nigeria’s appellate court opened a hearing on Wednesday into legal challenges filed by the country’s main opposition against the outcome of February’s presidential polls, as a throng of protesting women converged outside.

The tribunal fixed May 15 as the date to begin hearing the filed petitions in the capital, Abuja.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, are challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC), which triumphed with more than four million votes.

Local and international observers said the election was tarnished by low turnout and a number of irregularities, including deadly violence and vote-buying.

The Situation Room, a coalition of civic organisations, said there were at least 47 deaths. Another local monitor, YIAGA Africa, said notwithstanding the drawbacks, the “announced election results reflect the votes cast”.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also pushed back the polls by a week from the initial date after encountering logistical problems made worse by arson attacks on at least two of its offices and bad weather for flights carrying electoral materials.

An outright rejection of the results by Atiku triggered weeks of melodrama and mudslinging from followers of both candidates.

The PDP said it has technical experts from Microsoft and Oracle to corroborate its position that the announced results were tampered with. It is presenting the court with another set of results it said are from INEC’s official web server that shows a PDP victory by 1.6 million votes.

INEC responded to the allegations, saying the alternative set was fabricated and “invented for the purpose of this case”.

“Like their campaign, PDP’s tribunal case is a total effort in futility,” Olusegun Dada, an APC member and presidential media team volunteer, told Al Jazeera.

“The alternative results theory is mostly hogwash. But like other well-meaning Nigerians, I will like to see how they intend to prove how 71 political parties ran in an election and their server recorded votes for only two candidates.”

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