Nigeria: Bola Tinubu leads presidential race as rivals claim fraud

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Nigeria’s ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu has taken an early lead in the race for the presidency, after a tight election marked by long delays and an opposition walkout over fraud accusations.

Former Lagos governor Tinubu faced main opposition party PDP’s Atiku Abubakar in Saturday’s vote, but Labour Party’s Peter Obi tested the two others as a third contender for the first time in Nigeria’s modern democracy.

Highlighting his challenge to APC and PDP dominance, Obi won the key state of Lagos, a bastion of Tinubu’s support which also has the largest number of registered voters.

Voting on Saturday was mostly peaceful, but thugs ransacked some polling stations, many others opened very late, and delays slowed the uploading of results to an official website meant to promote transparency.

Counting was still ongoing late Monday, with 14 out of 36 states tallied, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Tinubu had won six states, Abubakar five states and Obi three states.

Tinubu, of the APC party, was ahead with more than 3.8 million votes, while Abubakar had 3 million and Obi 1.6 million, according to INEC figures.

INEC is expected to resume announcing results on Tuesday at 1000 GMT.

Candidates must win the most votes along with 25 percent of ballots in two-thirds of Nigeria’s states — a measure reflecting a country split between a mostly Muslim north and widely Christian south, and with three main ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, called on the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmoud to declare, “void and inadmissible for election declaration”, election results in polling units where the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) malfunctioned.

Obasanjo in a letter issued yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, specifically called on President Muhammadu Buhari to avert what he termed as the looming danger “by ordering cancellation of election results in all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test.”