The Labour Party, which emerged third in Nigeria’s just concluded elections, informed journalists in a press conference held on Thursday, March 3, 2023, that it would go to court within the stipulated three weeks’ time. The party’s candidate, Peter Obi, said the election did not meet the minimum standards of free, fair, transparent and credible elections, and would go down as one of the most controversial elections ever conducted in Nigeria.
“Once again, hardworking Nigerians have been robbed by their supposed leaders whom they trust,” said Obi.
He called on his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, as they fight the “political dinosaurs” with legal and peaceful options to reclaim his mandate. He claimed that he won the elections and he is ready to prove it in court, registering his confidence in the judiciary.
The preliminary press conference was hosted by the vice presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti Baba Ahmed, who informed the gathering that their legal team is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the elections, which they described as a ‘sham’, that was marred by fraud, rigging, and votes buying.
He said they had doubts about the government’s promise of free and fair elections from the onset, yet they participated, representing the people of Nigeria.
The outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged there were technical failures but maintained the elections were free and fair. This is also shared by President-elect Bola Ahmed who described the elections as “credible” while calling for national unity.
However, Barry Andrews, the EU Chief Observer, told the BBC that there were “shortcomings” in the elections as well as issues with the viewing platform. “We were able to see that there was evidence of vote buying. It’s too early to conclude how widespread this was”, said Andrews to the BBC.
He said their clear message is that they would encourage any complaints that would be brought through the appropriate legal channels.
The People’s Democratic Party who took second said they were also considering challenging the elections. Tinubu won with a record lower number of twelve states, the same number for both second place Atiku Abubakar, and third place, Peter Obi. President Buhari was reelected, winning 21 states in 2019, which makes obvious how much ground the APC has lost over the four-year period.
Turnout was also low at the polls as only 27 million people voted. The INEC stats showed that 93 million people registered, and 87 million got their voting cards, but in the end, only a quarter of the number showed up at the polls, recording the lowest turnout in the country’s history since 1999.
People have cited distrust in the electoral management systems as one main cause, as well as security threats.