6 Nigerian states drop suit to void presidential vote result
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Six states in Nigeria on Friday night withdrew a suit asking the Supreme Court to void the result of the just-concluded presidential election, the latest twist in several challenges facing the ruling party’s victory in the vote.
The states — led by governors in the main opposition party, which finished second in last weekend's election — had accused Nigeria’s electoral commission of failing to follow its own rules and election laws in conducting the vote and announcing a winner, according to court documents.
Election results from the 176,000 polling units are required to be transmitted to the commission's portal, which the opposition says didn't happen.
But the states withdrew the suit from the court in a joint notice of discontinuance filed on Friday night. They did not give a reason for withdrawing the challenge.
Bola Tinubu of the ruling party received 37% of the vote to win the election, which other candidates, including second-place candidate Atiku Abubakar and third-place finisher Peter Obi, say they will challenge in court.
The states — Sokoto, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Edo — had said they wanted the Supreme Court to declare that the results of the presidential election "were invalid, null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.”
Nigeria’s electoral law says an election can be invalidated only if it’s proven that the Independent National Electoral Commission largely didn’t follow the law and acted in ways that could have changed the result. None of Nigeria’s presidential election results has ever been overturned by the Supreme Court.
However, the latest court challenge was unique, lawyers said, citing the legal provision that voting results must be transmitted to the electoral body’s portal.
“Having not complied with that requirement, I believe the integrity of the entire process is questionable," said Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja. No matter what the precedent shows, the court does not have other options, he added.
Separately, the Supreme Court extended the deadline until the end of the year for the government to finish switching out old currency for new bank notes. The swap has created a cash shortage because there aren't enough redesigned notes to go around in the cash-reliant country. The crisis has stirred violence, daylong lines at banks and business closures.
A seven-member justice panel said Friday that the program’s implementation broke the law and directed the old banknotes of 200 naira (43 U.S. cents), 500 naira ($1.08) and 1,000 naira ($2.16) to stay legal tender until Dec. 31 before being replaced with the redesigned cash.
The central bank did not immediately comment on the directive from the court. In the past, it has been accused of disobeying court orders.
Chinedu Asadu, The Associated Press