Peter Obi, the opposition Labour Party candidate in Nigeria, has filed a court petition challenging last month’s disputed presidential election, the party said, launching what could be a several-month-long legal battle.
There have been numerous unsuccessful legal challenges to the results of previous Nigerian presidential elections.
Obi campaigned as an outsider, energised young and first-time voters, and appeared to have thrown the contest wide open, raising some voters’ hopes for change following years of hardship and violence under outgoing President Muhammad Buhari, 80, a former army general.
Obi finished third, behind Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), both of whom had powerful political machines and decades of networking behind them.
Nigeria has been governed by the APC and PDP since the end of military rule in 1999.
“We are contesting the qualifications of the winner-designated candidate. We are challenging, among other things, the procedures that led to his declaration as the winner, as Labour Party spokesperson Yunusa Tanko told Reuters.
Observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, and other organisations reported a variety of issues, including the failure of anti-manipulation systems.
Observers criticised the electoral commission’s poor planning and voting delays but did not allege fraud. The commission itself issued an apology for the technical issues that occurred during the count.
The Appeals Court will act as a tribunal and has 180 days to hear Obi’s challenge and render a decision. Atiku has also stated that he will petition the court and has until Wednesday at midnight to do so.
If a candidate is dissatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, they may appeal to the Supreme Court, which will review an appeal within sixty days.
The next president of Nigeria will be inaugurated on May 29.
During both last month’s presidential election and this weekend’s governorship elections, violence and voter intimidation were prevalent.
Despite the highest number of registered voters, 93 million, voter turnout was low.
The APC won 15 of the 28 governorship elections, including the commercial hub of Lagos, while the PDP won eight and a regional northern party won one.
Due to violence, elections in two states were declared inconclusive and counting was suspended in two others.