Nigerians who went to the polls in droves on Saturday now are waiting for the results of the postponed presidential contest between President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, the main opposition challenger among dozens of candidates in the race. They did so as the threat of electoral violence continued to rise.
As early results came in, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria gave no hints as to whether Buhari’s All People’s Congress (APC) party or his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rival was in the lead, but that didn’t stop the speculation among citizens anxious to hear the outcome.
Each party claimed victory while trading accusations of interference and political violence during the counts, following a contest marked by numerous reports of irregularities at polling stations. Those reports included the shooting deaths of four people – two APC leaders among them – in the Andoni region of Rivers State.
The Nigerian elections include legislative and local contests that are flashpoints of anger and division in some communities. The PDP warned late Saturday that its victories were being erased by attacks on vote tally centers, with security forces removing ballots and other evidence of PDP victories.
“Part of this plot is to trigger mayhem and burn down INEC Nigeria offices in order to claim that all evidence of our winning the votes has been destroyed,” the PDP said in a social media statement.
Meanwhile, Buhari’s administration accused the PDP of doing the same. Femi Adesina, special advisor to Buhari, claimed that sources from within the opposition party warned of a PDP recruitment effort for “armed thugs and miscreants nationwide to attack ward and local government collation centers this evening till the wee hours of tomorrow morning.”
Most of the centers are in schools or other poorly protected community buildings, he said. “This is therefore a clarion call to all law enforcement agencies to mobilize extra armed security to protect all collation centers nationwide.”
Image: Bashir Ahmad/Buhari Centre