The credibility of the presidential election was out in doubt yesterday as the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Muhammadu Buhari, made allegations that thumb-printed ballot papers were used in several states.
Mr. Buhari spoke to journalists shortly after casting his vote at his home in Daura, Katsina State. He had been accredited in less than five minutes amidst loud jubilation in his home town of Daura. There were no PDP agents in sight when he arrived, only CPC supporters climbed rooftops and trees to see their hero. He later voted at 12:50pm.
Mr Buhari said information reaching him suggested "nocturnal movement" of already thumb-printed ballot papers being conveyed to polling units in several states from yesterday into the early hours of voting day.
"We are concerned about the amount of election voting cards that are being thumb-printed elsewhere and were taken to some of the voting centres. There were reports of planes delivering what is suspected to be presidential voting cards already thumb printed in several states," said Nigeria's former head of state.
"Definitely one came in the early hours into Katsina. It was alleged that when the plane came in the early hours of the morning the people working there were moved and the consignment was taken to the governor's lodge." He, however, declined giving further information pending police investigations into the allegations.
But Katsina State police spokesperson, Abubakar Mohammed, when contacted on the issue said he was unaware of the allegations presented, and requested that further enquiries should be addressed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
"I am not aware of any plane or any such thing. As for now I have not heard of anything. Find out from INEC first," Mr. Mohammed said.
The spokesperson for INEC in the state, Mohammed Musa, did not answer his phone when called for the commission's reactions. Over one hour after a text enquiry was sent to him, he responded "I'm not aware of such incident."
Nasir Abdul, the media and publicity adviser to the Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, said the allegations were baseless.
"In the first place, the Government House is not INEC State Headquarters. Secondly, the Government House is not the custodian of election materials. Also INEC specifically said they have made water-tight preparations nationwide. Lastly, there are particular features for ballot material and non-sensitive material which presiding officers ensure are used," Mr. Abdul said.
"General Buhari is a typical Nigerian politician. Last week he didn't make any allegations during the National Assembly election which CPC won. He didn't condemn the attitude of CPC officials. So in the light of this, I think it is unbecoming of a person of General Buhari's standing to say what he said."
The retired general, however, said that as a checking measure, his party members had been drafted to all INEC offices to monitor the movement of material to and from the commission's offices.
"Our people are present in all INEC offices. They are being vigilant that whatever goes in and gets out is authorised. They are being supervised by party representatives and presidential candidates monitoring teams. This is what we are doing to ensure any rigging does not take place," Mr Buhari said.
No court case
Mr. Buhari, who was Nigeria's seventh Head of State between 1983 and 1985 also said he would not go to the courts regardless of the outcome of the presidential elections. His reason was his experience from the 2007 presidential elections which he contested up to the Supreme court.
"I am not going to court because I was in court for 50 months between 2003 and 2007 and the zenith of that incident was the highest legal body in the country, the Supreme court, was split into two. There were seven justices that sat over the case," Mr. Buhari, who vied for the nation's number one position in 2003 and 2007, had said at a debate.
"Three of them said the election was flawed; it was not done according to law, they recommend the elections should be annulled. Three of them said yes there were a lot of flaws but Nigeria could not afford to go for another election. The Chief Justice of the Federation gave the winning vote for Late Umar Yar'Adua. So I made up my mind this time around."
The general, however, said his party is at liberty to go to court where real cases of rigging are discovered.