Nigeria has announced some early results from national elections on Sunday, though a victor in the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari is not expected for several days.
The vote in Africa’s most populous nation went ahead mostly peacefully, despite some ransacked polling stations and late starts at many others.
Nearly 90 million people were eligible to vote on Saturday for a successor to Buhari, with many Nigerians hoping a new leader will do a better job tackling insecurity, economic malaise and growing poverty.
Votes in presidential and parliamentary elections are collated in each of Nigeria’s 36 states before the count is transmitted to the electoral commission’s central tallying centre in the capital Abuja.
The first results, from Ekiki state, showed a majority of votes for president cast in favour of Bola Tinubu of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tinubu pulled in more than 200,000 votes in the state, against less than half that total for Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and just more than 11,000 for Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
The chairman of Nigeria’s electoral commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, adjourned the session following the first results and said the release of tallies would resume at 11am local time (10:00 GMT) on Monday.
Voting had to be extended into Sunday in a few parts of the country after glitches on Saturday, but counting has been under way since polls closed, with the final tally expected within five days.
It was not yet clear if all voting in the West African oil-exporting country had been concluded.
Earlier on Sunday, the PDP’s Abubakar had urged INEC to upload the results immediately after accusing some state governors of trying to compromise the results.
“It will be a disservice to Nigerians and a negation to democracy for anyone to subvert the will of the people as freely expressed in their votes of yesterday,” he said in a statement.
When he was defeated by Buhari in the 2019 election, Abubakar claimed extensive fraud. The Supreme Court eventually tossed out his challenge.
Labour Party chairman Julius Abure also accused election officials of failing to upload results from parts of Lagos and southern Delta State to help the ruling APC’s candidate.
Observers group Yiaga Africa said it was “deeply concerned with the delay” in results.
But INEC said problems with uploading results on its IReV data page were due to “technical hitches” and there was no risk of tampering.
“The commission wishes to assure Nigerians that the challenges are not due to any intrusion or sabotage of our systems,” it said in a statement.
“It is important to avoid statements and actions that can heat up the polity at this time.”
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Abuja, said that the delays in uploading preliminary results by the electoral commission caused “a lot of consternation” among political parties, candidates and voters.
Based on their statement, the “electoral commission is concerned,” Jamjoom said.
“They want to reassure citizens that there is no malfeasance at play here, that this is only a technical glitch. But I will tell you, the longer people are waiting here, the more we are hearing from people in Abuja that they are worried about what all this means and how the delay could impact things going forward in the country.
“People are tense, they want to get those results, they want to know who the next leader of this country is going to be at such a crucial time.”
The commission has 14 days to officially announce results, but the online tally should be made available in the next few days.
To win the presidency, a candidate must get the most votes but also win at least 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Some states are must-wins. Lagos has the most registered voters at more than 7 million, followed by two states in the country’s mostly Muslim north, Kano and Kaduna states.
The competitive race has some analysts forecasting an unprecedented runoff between the two frontrunners if no candidate meets election requirements. It would have to be organised within 21 days.