News24

Court rejects Nigeria poll challenge

2011-12-29 07:25

Abuja - Nigeria's Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan's electoral victory in April alleging irregularities and seeking a re-run.

"This appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed," said Judge Olufunmilayo Adekeye, who read out the unanimous decision of the seven-member Supreme Court.

The opposition Congress for Progressive Change had alleged irregularities in the conduct of the poll and sought its cancellation to pave the way for a re-run. The CPC's candidate, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, came second.

The presidency issued a statement from Jonathan commending the decision and calling on Buhari to accept it.

Jonathan "expects that General Buhari will continue to contribute positively to national development and also mobilise his supporters across the country to join in the process of national reconciliation and national renaissance", it said.

Buhari, military ruler from January 1984 to August 1985, called the court's ruling "politically motivated".

"This decision of the Supreme Court is politically motivated and it has little judicial content," he said outside the court.

Significant problems

Nigeria's April presidential election was judged by observers to be a major improvement over previous polls that had been wracked by violence and fraud, though significant problems remain.

The vote also exposed Nigeria's deep ethnic and religious divisions, with Buhari, a Muslim from the north, winning support across much of that region and 31% nationwide.

Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta, dominated in his native south. He finished with 57%.

Three days of rioting across the north after the election left some 800 people dead.

Fears have again been raised over the country's divisions in recent days, with a wave of attacks on Christmas blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram sparking fears of renewed sectarian violence.