Nigeria Poll Challenge Dismissed

By Daily Guide
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Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria's Supreme Court has rejected the final challenge to last year's election of President Umaru Yar'Adua. Opposition leaders had asked the court to annul the election, saying there had had been violence and fraud.

Local and foreign poll observers condemned the elections in April last year as flawed.

But the Supreme Court has upheld the findings of lower courts that lawyers had not provided strong enough evidence to overturn the official result.

"In sum, this appeal failed and is dismissed. Accordingly, Umaru Yar'Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan are the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," said Supreme Court justice Niki Tobi.

The BBC 's Alex Last in the capital, Abuja, says legal wrangling over the election has undermined President Yar'Adua's first 18 months in office.

Nigeria faces a growing economic crisis because of the falling price of oil, the West African country's biggest source of income.

Lawyers for the opposition candidates, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former military leader Gen Muhammadu Buhari, said the election was rigged.

Ballot boxes were openly stuffed and the candidates for the opposition Action Congress (AC) and the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) were illegally excluded, they said.

Ballot papers were not properly printed and were delivered with only hours to go before voting was due to start, the opposition court papers said.

Polling stations more than five hours' drive away from Abuja did not get ballot papers until the evening of the election day, some not until the day after.

But the result was declared in Abuja less than 48 hours later, while some states were still voting.

The election was also marred by violence in many areas.

The run-up to the polls saw clashes in Mr Yar'Adua's home state of Katsina, and in the northern city of Kano.

Opposition supporters burned down an office of the Independent National Election Commission in Katsina.

In Kano, a group of armed men took over a police station, killing more than 100 officers and bystanders before they were killed by the army. Their motivations for the attack are still not clear, although many agree that it may have been an attempt to destabilise Kano State, an opposition stronghold.