Nigeria opposition accuses ruling party of seeking to rig vote

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Image: Getty Images

Nigeria's main opposition party accused the government Tuesday of trying to rig upcoming elections, postponed at the last minute on Saturday, by using dead voters, foreigners, and technological manipulation.

The country's electoral discommission called off last weekend's presidential and parliamentary vote just hours before polling, citing logistical problems in the distribution of materials.

Voting was delayed by a week.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman Uche Secondus told an emergency meeting of senior party members Tuesday: "Our victory is delayed. It cannot be denied."

He said "over one million dead voters will vote in this election" and claimed there had been a "coordinated approach" to illegally register foreigners from Niger and Cameroon to vote.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP have each blamed the other for trying to manipulate the process.

Since the delay, there has been a marked change in tone from the main parties, even after all candidates signed a pledge to conduct peaceful elections and respect the result.

On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari said he had ordered police and the military to be "ruthless" with vote-riggers and warned ballot box snatchers could pay with their lives.

"I am going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs or snatch (ballot) boxes or to disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his life," Buhari said.

Secondus claimed Tuesday the IT system of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been deliberately compromised and corrupted by a software virus.

He also said a vendor of electronic machines that "read" biometric identity cards, allowing people to vote, was an APC candidate, representing a conflict of interest.

"Nigerians know the fact that this government is in control of INEC," Secondus added.

The INEC has maintained there was no political interference in its decision to postpone the election.

Some 84 million Nigerians are registered to vote.