Nigeria leader says President Buhari 'can't hold fair election'

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo also says incumbent Muhammadu Buhari has failed to secure the country against Boko Haram.

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    Obasanjo accused Buhari of resorting to desperate plans to remain in power [File: Tife Owolabi/Reuters]
    Obasanjo accused Buhari of resorting to desperate plans to remain in power [File: Tife Owolabi/Reuters]

    Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of planning to rig the upcoming national elections in February.

    In a statement issued on Sunday in Abeokuta cityObasanjo urged Nigerians to resist any plot by the government to manipulate the vote.

    "I personally have serious doubts about the present INEC's integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election," he said.

    Buhari is seeking re-election on February 16. His main challenger is Obasanjo's former deputy, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People's Democratic Party.

    Elections in NigeriaAfrica's most populous nation, are often turbulent affairs, frequently marked by accusations of plotting or back-door dealing.

    Obasanjo also urged the electorate to vote out Buhari for failing to manage the country's security crisis. 

    "The security situation has deteriorated with kidnappings everywhere and Boko Haram being more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this," Obasanjo said.

    "This administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling security issues, particularly the Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation," he added.

    "Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denies."

    The former president accused Buhari of resorting to desperate plans, despite being sick, to retain himself in power, like former military dictator Sani Abacha.

    "Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the judiciary to cow them to submission,” Obasanjo said.

    "Today, another Abacha era is here. Security institutions are being misused to fight critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our democracy."

    Buhari rejects allegations

    President Buhari's office dismissed the accusations, calling the remarks "most unfitting" by a former president.

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    "This language of his 16-page letter, likening President Buhari to General Sani Abacha, a man he dreaded and the one who jailed him under military laws, is most unfitting from a former President of Nigeria," Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu said.

    Shehu called the opposition's accusations of vote rigging "outlandish and outrageous".

    "The claim that President Buhari has put in place a rigging machinery is both outlandish and outrageous. We are unable to get words to describe a 90-year old liar, except to say that with his lies against the president, it is Obasanjo, not the president, who falls in esteem," he added.

    Shehu said Buhari is being attacked for his fight against corruption.

    "What the former president said is no more than evidence that President Buhari’s war against corruption is succeeding," Shehu said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News