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Nigeria Candidate To Contest Vote

February 28, 1999

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ A top aide to Nigerian presidential candidate Olu Falae said Sunday that Saturday’s election was ``completely rigged″ and that Falae plans to contest the election results.

Falae and top officials in his party _ as well as the All Peoples Party that also backed his candidacy _ were heading to the capital city of Abuja to meet with election officials, the aide said.

``The vote was completely rigged,″ he said in a telephone interview from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. ``We have not had free and fair elections and Falae will contest this.″

The surprise announcement came as Nigerian elections officials announced that retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler seeking a civilian comeback 20 years after leaving power, had pulled further into the lead in the elections.

By Sunday evening, Obasanjo had captured 61 percent of the vote with 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states reporting, plus the federal capital territory.

An official with the All Peoples Party interrupted a news conference at Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission to denounce the results.

``We cannot be bound by the results released thus far,″ said Ayo Opakun, Falae’s campaign director.

The announcements from Falae’s camp follow reports by international observers of ballot box-stuffing and other serious voting irregularities.

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