Nigeria’s third-placed presidential candidate, Peter Obi, strongly rejected the results and vowed to contest them in the courts, in his first public address since Saturday’s election.
Obi said he rejected the victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, who was declared the winner with close to 8.8 million votes – about 36.6% of the total.
The 61-year-old candidate, who galvanized the youth vote, received about 6 million votes, according the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), just behind former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party.
Obi said he should have been declared the winner.”We will explore all legal and peaceful options to reclaim our mandate. We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians,” Obi said in a televised press briefing from Abuja on Thursday, alleging the process was rigged.
“This election did not meet the minimum standard expected of a free, transparent, credible and fair election,” he said. “It will go down as one of the most controversial elections ever conducted in Nigeria. The good and hardworking people of Nigeria have been robbed by our supposed leaders whom they trusted.”
bi said he was hopeful of a favorable outcome to his promised legal challenge. “I know the courts will do the right thing. The future of their children is involved,” he said.
Dressed in his trademark black shirt and trousers, emblazoned with his Labour Party logo, Obi was in high spirits as he took questions at the media briefing held at an Abuja hotel.
As he left the venue, Obi was mobbed by a crowd of supporters with many chanting his name and others saying “My President.”
Obi is not new to election legal battles: In 2007, he was reinstated as governor of southeastern Anambra state three months after he was impeached by the state parliament.
He was returned to office by the courts on two other occasions, after the INEC declared his opponents as winners of the gubernatorial elections he contested.
Saturday’s election was dogged with controversy, with several observers including the European Union saying the election fell short of expectations and “lacked transparency.”
The poll also witnessed a low voter turnout. More than 93 million people registered to vote, according to INEC, but only 87 million obtained a voter card, a main requirement to vote. But the electoral commission said on Wednesday that only 24 million valid votes were counted, representing a turnout of just 26% — a figure much lower than the last elections in 2019 when around a third of registered voters ended up voting.
The election was also blighted by pockets of violence, with many voters in Lagos complaining of intimidation and attempts to suppress their votes.