Controversy has trailed an independent collation of the February 25 presidential election results spearheaded by supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
The PUNCH reports that supporters of both Obi and his Peoples Democratic Party’s counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, have faulted the victory of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate and now President-elect, Bola Tinubu, claiming that the election was rigged in favour of the former Lagos State governor.
The PUNCH reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Tinubu as the President-elect after the 70-year-old polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rivals, Atiku and Obi, who scored 6,984,520 and 6,101, votes, respectively.
But both Atiku and Obi have refused to concede defeat in the February 25 presidential election, vowing to recover their electoral mandate in court.
The two candidates also rebuffed the gesture of conciliation made by Tinubu, who in his acceptance speech after he was declared the winner of the poll, asked them to support him in the task of building the nation.
However, both presidential candidates claimed they had data to back their claims in court. For the legal battle, The PUNCH reports that the trio engaged a combined team of 89 Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Sources within the camp of the warring political parties said that the array of legal luminaries, drawn from different chambers, are currently being furnished with materials that could be tendered as evidence in court.
To prove their candidate’s case, supporters of Obi, known better as ‘Obidients’ on social media, had mobilised themselves to independently collate results and show Nigerians that the former Anambra State governor won the presidential poll.
The supporters, spearheaded by one Mark Essien, with the username @markessien on the popular microblogging site, Twitter, had claimed that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and Election Result Viewing Portal deployed by INEC were not utilised and true election results from different polling units across the country were not what was uploaded on the portal.
Collating results on an independent iReV, with the help of other Obidients, the first set of results shared by Essien showed that Obi was in the clear lead, a development that further justified the claim that their candidate was allegedly rigged out.
“The way things are going, by tomorrow, we would have counted 160,000 polling unit results and done our own collation. All collation officers that thought they could announce anything they wanted did not understand the power of a mass movement,” Essien had tweeted on Thursday.
Trouble however started hours later after the collation showed that Tinubu polled more votes than Obi and Atiku combined and was in the lead against expectation. With the development, some Obidents turned on Essien and accused him of allegedly working for the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and not for Obi’s cause.
Leading the attack on Essien, a Twitter user with the handle @AfamDeluxo wrote, “Mark Essien is deeply into Nasiru El-rufai’s pocket. Trust whatever you think he is doing for the obidient movement at your own peril. You can go ahead and trust him, that’s fine, I don’t anyone that is friends, or crony with the high and mighty in the APC. Especially someone like Nasiru El-rufai. Never!”
However, the independent IReV portal’s results were later blocked from public view, a development that sparks reactions from Twitter users.
A user, @celestocalculus, said, “Take Mr. Essien’s poll & its eventual result with a pinch of salt. Here’s why: if he’s sourcing the forms from IReV online records, then it’s already sus to begin with. Why? Those records weren’t uploaded from the PU, so they had ample time to beat it up to fit their numbers.
He added, “I know he’s blocked the results from the public but as at right now, 11:18 pm this is what it is. The game is to swing public trust to the website. Build anticipation by hiding the result, then show the final outcome, [maybe] as presented by [the now mostly clear] IReV uploads.
“Finally, it’s really just smokes and mirrors ladies and gents. The game is the game! Allow the Labour Party legal team to do their work and disregard all these distractions, that we all keep looking for to boost our validation.”
@AsiwajuOladimej wrote, “Essien was a good guy when he started the Collation and LP was leading. By the time the result wasn’t going in their favour, they said he is working for APC and El Rufai. Soludo will always be right. Headless Mob ”
@Sholexx_ wrote, “Obidient dey their own dey nurse their wound. You carry your oversabi say you wan audit Irev results and assured them that Obi won the election. Now, the audit is not “mathing” as you’ve anticipated. You must collect from both Obidient and Agbado hand today.”
@MrOdanz wrote, “So these people were losing at the collation centre they set up for themselves after tallying 90% of the results? I heard they’ve shut it down based on “legal advice” because the results isn’t resulting to what they want.
“Few days ago they were cheering their own INEC chairman (Mark Essien) who wanted to prove to them that their mandate was stolen. Now that the result isn’t going according to plan, they have turned on their INEC Chairman, accusing him of being a saboteur sent by El-Rufai.
“This was the last result from their own collation center. They have suspended collation for now. Only positive thing from this their independent election is that it is clear PDP stole second position from them.”