#NigeriaDecides 2023: Buhari aide Ajuri Ngelale makes false claims about disputed election in CNN interview
In an interview with the US channel, the presidential aide and spokesman for the ruling party’s presidential campaign made claims about election day violence, the conduct of the election and the result. We checked three of his claims.
Nigeria’s 25 February 2023 presidential and national assembly elections were the freest and fairest with only a few glitches, according to Ajuri Ngelale, president Muhammadu Buhari’s senior special assistant on public affairs.
Ngelale said this on 1 March 2023 in an interview with Zain Asher, an anchor for the US news channel CNN.
The country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) has declared Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party, the winner of the presidential election.
Ngelale, who is also a spokesperson for the APC presidential campaign, likened the failure to upload the results of the polling units to Inec’s results portal to the first-day crash of the Obamacare website in 2013. Obamacare is a term used to refer to the United States’ Affordable Care Act, signed into law by then president Barack Obama to make it easier for US citizens to obtain health insurance.
He also played down the impact of violence on election day.
We fact-checked three claims he made in the interview.
Inec’s declaration meant that the APC had beaten out its main rivals: the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
In his interview on CNN, Ngelale claimed that the political parties were not disputing the actual results but were only unhappy that the collated results were not displayed on the screen.
However, according to several media reports, political parties are contesting the results of the presidential election on the grounds that they were manipulated.
The PDP, the Labour Party and the NNPP have rejected the results of the presidential election.
Agents of these parties walked out of the national collation centre and refused to sign the presidential result sheet.
They also rejected the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect and accused Inec of compromising the electoral process. These leading opposition parties want the election annulled and a fresh vote held.
Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate, has said he will challenge the result through “legal and peaceful means”.
Ngelale’s claim is false.
Ngelale said the process is that all political party agents sign the polling unit result sheet and “once that result sheet is collated at the ward centre, the local government collation centre and the state centre, it is now sent into that iRev portal”.
iRev is a web portal developed by Inec to enable its staff to upload election results from 176,846 polling units across Nigeria.
The process described by Ngelale is contrary to the plans laid out by the chairman of Inec, Mahmood Yakubu, before the election.
Inec repeatedly promised that polling unit results would be transmitted to the iRev portal on election day, and denied claims that it had abandoned the plan.
CNN anchor Asher, who is British Nigerian, argued that the level of violence recorded on election day affected the credibility of the election.
She referred to a viral video of a woman who returned to vote after receiving first aid for an injury to her right eye when thugs attacked her polling unit.
Ngelale said the ruling party shouldn’t be blamed for the violence.
“Interesting, the example you cited with the woman with her eyes shot. That was actually a vote that took place in the southeastern part of the country, where you are from, that Peter Obi won massively. Labour Party won 90% of the South-East,” he said.
This is false. All media reports of the incident show that it took place in Surulere, Lagos state - a southwestern state governed by the APC.
The News Agency of Nigeria, a federal government news agency, reported that the thugs injured Jennifer Seifegha at the Nuru/Oniwo Ward, Polling Unit 065, in Surulere, Lagos, while she was waiting to vote.
This fact-check was done as part of the work of the Nigeria Fact-Checkers Coalition, tackling disinformation around Nigeria’s 2023 general election.
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