Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari reelected, but opponent rejects results

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 04:17:07-05

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has secured a second four-year term in office, final results from Saturday’s national election show.

Buhari, who first came to power in 2015 after defeating then-incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, defeated his main challenger Atiku Abubakar by a margin of nearly four million votes in results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed 15,191,847 (56%) while Abubakar received 11,262,978 (41%) of votes in the weekend election, according to the commission, which finished counting state-by-state results on Tuesday.

“The new administration will intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption,” Buhari said after his victory was officially announced.

Abubakar, in a statement, however rejected the results calling the electoral process “militarized” and a “disservice” to Nigeria’s democracy.

“If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South,” Atiku said.

He added: “I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court.”

Buhari won in 19 of the 36 states with Atiku gaining the upper hand in 17 states and in the capital, Abuja.

At least 39 people were killed in election-related violence, according to the Situation Room, a coalition of more than 70 civic organizations that monitored the elections.

The Situation Room, citing data from analysis firm SBM Intelligence, said most of the deaths occurred in the southern oil-rich Rivers state where seven people were killed in clashes between the Nigerian Army and armed men.

But despite the violence, US observers from the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute (IRI/NDI) said that although the deaths were tragic, they should be placed in the broader context.

“We don’t want to overemphasize the deaths,” the IRI’s John Tomaszewski told CNN Monday.

“We understand the contextual relationship. Violence happens every day here. It’s not just on Election Day.”

The death toll reported in the presidential vote is lower than in previous national elections. The International Crisis Group said at least 100 people were killed in violence that broke out during and after the 2015 election and Human Rights Watch reported 800 killed in the post-election violence of 2011.