Voters in Africa's most populous nation were forced to return to the polls on Sunday because of material delays, with representatives of some opposition parties complaining about INEC's inability to upload results as they trickled in from states.
In a statement, the commission acknowledged the issue and said it was due to “technical hitches” while allaying fears of “intrusion or sabotage” to its online platforms — the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV). INEC introduced the electronic result transmission system to boost transparency in the electoral process.
Representatives of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, led by Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party's Peter Obi rejected early election results Monday, walking out of the vote counting process which put the ruling party All Progressives Congress candidate Bola Tinubu in the lead, with results from 11 of 36 states reported.
Kabir Adamu, an Abuja-based security risk management and intelligence analyst, told VOA that delays and subsequent posturing by candidates is creating the potential for violence.
“Yes, the delay is a fact, but what has created a very tense environment is the conspiracy theory around the delay,” he said.
“The leading contenders are now impugning the integrity of INEC in order to create this environment that has now turned into the potential for some form of social upheaval in Nigeria. If they did not introduce this conspiracy theory, I wouldn't be too worried.”
Adamu said that because of these developments, he fears the outcome of the elections will not be received positively by the voter population.
“I am hoping that any electoral challenge will be through the courts. But based on my experience and understanding of Nigeria [people are] likely to come out and protest the results on the streets.”
Chukwuemeka Eze, executive director at the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), told VOA from Accra that despite some election successes, there is room for significant improvement.
“The first thing is to appreciate the fact that voter turnout increased tremendously, so that means reducing voter apathy and that can be [attributed] to the new improvement in the electoral laws,” he said.
INEC has yet to release the percentage of voter turnout.
Eze said INEC officials failed to “leverage the momentum” to maintain its credibility, thus creating “a very difficult trust deficit situation.”
“There's nothing major that might point to fraudulent activities, but because INEC left some gaps with regards to predictability of the process, including the mode of collection of results and limitation of its transmission portal, I think INEC was not proactive in that,” he said.
“They have left a vacuum for citizens to now begin to fill in with all manners of judgment.”
On Monday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) election observer mission to Nigeria said it noted some irregularities, including electoral violence, postponements of elections, inadequate protection of voter secrecy and the delivery of wrong voting materials to some stations.
“My biggest fear is the breakdown of law and order when some quarters begin to celebrate and others begin to engage in violence as reaction to a result they perceived may not have been the true reflection of what transpired at the [ballot] box,” Eze said, adding that candidates should "recommit themselves to the peace pact they signed" and if necessary, "seek redress through formal and legal means."
Some of the information in this report came from The Associated Press.