The opposition candidate in Nigeria’s election has rejected the result which saw incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari win Saturday’s poll by almost four million votes.
Atiku Abubakar called the result a “sham election” and said he would be mounting a court challenge.
His statement came on Wednesday morning, a few hours after the electoral commission declared Mr Buhari the winner.
Mr Abubakar said he could have conceded “within seconds” if the vote had been free and fair.
But he alleged there had been “manifest and premeditated malpractices” in many of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Mr Abubakar said voting was suppressed in areas where he had strong support in the south and that states where an extremist insurgency continues had generated “much higher voter turnouts” than in peaceful states.
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He also objected to the deployment of the military in some areas.
Mr Abubakar’s statement added: “I have never seen our democracy so debased.”
As many Nigerians awakened to the win, Mr Buhari told colleagues he was “deeply humbled” and regretted the loss of dozens of lives in “mindless” election-related violence.
He added: “I would like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition.”
During an event to certify his victory, he added: “Election is not war and should never be seen as a do-or-die affair.”
Mr Buhari’s supporters danced in the streets and clung to speeding vehicles as they celebrated his victory.
“He is a man of integrity,” a Buhari supporter in the northern city of Kano, Mohammed Aliyu, said.
“He is the only leader in Nigeria today that does not accumulate wealth.”
Mr Buhari received 15.1 million votes, 55%, while Mr Abubakar received 11.2 million, 41%.
The average national turnout was 35.6%, which continues a downward trend for elections in Nigeria.