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Buhari camp declares victory in Nigeria


Buhari camp declares victory in Nigeria

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Buhari has won Nigeria’s presidential election but fears his victory could be stolen by “tricks” from the government.

If Buhari wins and President Goodluck Jonathan steps down, it would mark the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition party has democratically taken control of the country from the ruling party.

Results from 31 states and the small Federal Capital Territory amounting to some 22 million votes showed Buhari leading by nearly three million votes. Buhari crucially carried Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial hub with the largest number of voters, according to results announced Tuesday.

Electoral officials said they were awaiting results from just five states to give a tally of Saturday’s election and expected to announce a final count later in the day.

“As for the election, we have won it!”Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesman, said outside the party’s headquarters that has been decked out with celebratory bunting for days.

But “We are not out of the woods yet, we don’t know what tricks the government is going to play”.

In the northern city of Kaduna, a spontaneous celebration of Buhari’s followers sprang up. Young men on motor scooters performed wheelies as hundreds of youths chanted: “Change! Change! Change!” and cars honked their horns in support. In Kaduna state, Buhari took 1.1 million votes to Jonathan’s 484 000.

Britain and the United States warned Monday of the possibility of political meddling in the final count. Jonathan’s campaign spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode said that was “absolute balderdash” and demanded evidence.

Garba said the opposition party’s agents at more than 150 000 polling stations across the country “tell us that we have won, but our victory is still threatened”. The winning candidate must take more than half of all votes and at least 25 per cent of votes in two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory at Abuja.

The austere and strict retired general, who says he is a convert to democracy, has promised that if he wins he will stamp out an insurgency in the north waged by Boko Haram, a homegrown Islamic extremist group that has killed thousands of people, many of them civilians, has kidnapped even young girls, and has pledged fealty to the so-called Islamic State.

Critics and supporters agree that Buhari is the one leader who did not treat the country’s treasury as a personal piggy bank. During his brief 1984-1985 dictatorship he rule with an iron fist, jailing people even for littering, and ordering civil servants who arrived late to work to do squats.

He gagged the press and jailed journalists to cover up a deepening economic crisis as prices tumbled for the oil on which Nigeria’s economy depends. He eventually was overthrown by his own soldiers.