The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has explained how he allegedly won but was rigged out in Rivers and Benue States during the collation of the results of the 25 February election.
Mr Obi said this in the petition he filed on Tuesday to challenge the victory of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, whom the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared as the winner of the poll.
He said he won the election if unlawful votes were to be removed from Mr Tinubu’s scores across many states.
Both Benue and Rivers are part of the 12 states INEC declared as won by Mr Tinubu.
INEC said the president-elect polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat 17 other presidential candidates in the election which was essentially a four-horse race.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who similarly won in 12 states, came second with 6,984,520 votes.
Mr Obi, who led in 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) came fourth with 1,496,687 votes. He won only in Kano State.
PREMIUM TIMES reported earlier that Mr Obi listed Benue and Rivers as part of the 21 states where he is challenging the results of the presidential election.
But the copy of the petition in circulation in the public does not contain the details of the alleged manipulations.
The petition, however, cited the figures declared by INEC and contrasted them with what the petitioners believed to be the true scores from Benue and Rivers.
How Rivers, Benue results were manipulated – Obi
In Rivers, Mr Obi and his party recalled that INEC, at the National Collation Centre in Abuja, announced Mr Tinubu’s votes as 231,591 and theirs as 175,071
The tally put the margin of win between Mr Tinubu and Mr Obi, who came second in the state, as 56,520.
But the petitioners contended that contrary to INEC’s declaration, “the actual scores obtained at the polling units”, showed that they polled 205,110 votes, while Mr Tinubu scored 84,108.
With this, Mr Obi and the Labour Party claimed to have secured 121,002 votes as the margin by which they should have defeated Mr Tinubu and his APC in Rivers State.
In the case of Benue State, the petitioners said INEC “falsely announced” 310,468 as Mr Tinubu’s scores and 308,372 as theirs.
This left Mr Tinubu with 2,096 votes as his margin of win in the state.
Disputing the figures, however, Mr Obi said in his petition that he won the state with 329,003 votes, while Mr Tinubu trailed him with 300,421 votes.
By simple calculation, this would have given Mr Obi 28,582 votes as his margin of win in Benue State.
Mr Obi argued that by INEC’s “unlawful announcement”, he was denied as the winner of the election in Benue and Rivers states.
He told the court that he would prove this during the trial using “the forensic analysis of the election for Rivers State and Benue State made pursuant to the inspection of the election materials as ordered by the court.”
Winning the two states would have jerked up the number of states where Mr Obi led from 11 states to 13 states and the FCT, and reduced Mr Tinubu’s from 12 to 10 states.
If the court accepts Mr Obi’s results from the two states, it would take only 157,483 votes from the about 3 million votes margin by which Mr Tinubu is ahead of him based on the final tally announced by INEC.
Earlier, PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Obi’s allegation that the election and the collation of the results were marred by either overvoting or wrong computation of Mr Tinubu’s figures in the 21 states
Mr Obi listed both Benue and Rivers among the 10 states where votes were falsely credited to Mr Tinubu.
The 10 states are Rivers, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Imo, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, and Plateau.
In the remaining 11 states whose results he is also challenging, the Labour Party candidate alleged that the outcome of the election was marred by overvoting.
He listed Taraba and Borno, the home state of Mr Tinubu’s running mate and vice-president-elect, Kashim Shettima, among the 11 states where the overvoting allegedly occurred.
Alongside Borno and Taraba, the states where the number of votes allegedly surpassed voters duly accredited by voters, according to Mr Obi, are Ekiti, Oyo, Ondo, Taraba, Osun, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Gombe, Yobe and Niger.
Mr Obi and his party prayed to the court to restore their unlawful votes to them and declare them the winner of the election after discounting the alleged illegal votes in Mr Tinubu’s scores.
Alternatively, they urged the court to cancel the 25 February election and order a rerun.
The INEC, Mr Tinubu, APC, and Mr Shettima are expected to file their separate replies to the petition soon.