2023 Nigeria Elections: We Saw Evidence Of Vote-buying, EU’s Chief Observer Says

 As controversies surrounding the transparency of Nigeria’s 2023 elections continue, EU’s chief observer at the election, Barry Andrews, told the BBC there were several shortcomings.

“Broadly speaking we were able to see that there was evidence of vote-buying. It’s too early for us to conclude how widespread this was,” he said.

As well as the delays uploading the results, he noted “a clear anomaly between the fact that votes for the presidential election were not uploaded, whereas votes for the legislative elections were uploaded”.

“Our message is very clear – that we would encourage any complaints to be brought through the appropriate legal channels. But our observations certainly bear out significant shortcomings in the electoral process,” he said.[/]

Several photos of ballots, said to show evidence of ballot-tampering, are also circulating on social media

The BBC has checked some of the photos and traced them back to uploads on Inec’s server.

[b]The BBC noticed extensive alterations on some of the results uploaded, but can’t confirm if they were altered maliciously.

There were also instances where, instead of uploading a photo of a presidential election result to the Inec website, mugshots of people appear to have been posted.

The BBC also reported a mix-up of presidential election results from some of Nigeria’s 36 states. For instance, lots of results from Sokoto in the north were uploaded to where results from polling units from Rivers in the south should have been.

Sokoto was won by Mr Abubakar while Mr Tinubu won Rivers, which had been expected to back Mr Obi.

These wrong uploads, the BBC found, affected results in many states. According to BBC, subsequent checks show that many of the affected polling units now have the right results

The Electoral Act mandates that party agents, Inec officials, and the security officer in each unit will have copies of the signed results that is uploaded to the Inec server. As such, parties should have evidence of the original results to back up any claims that results have been changed.

There are viral posts online showing results purported to be from polling units where voting did not occur in reality, but these are yet to be verified.

Voting delays were observed across Nigeria. Many people waited from the morning until late at night to vote, but others gave up and went home. In some cases, Inec staff failed to turn up at all at polling stations. This has led to claims that opposition supporters were deliberately disenfranchised.

Online, ruling party supporters are pointing to losses suffered by Mr Tinubu – including in the capital Abuja and Lagos – as proof that the election was free and fair.

Mr Tinubu himself acknowledged there were lapses in the election but said they “were relatively few in number and were immaterial to affect the outcome”.

However, many young people who backed Mr Obi in the vote have dismissed the whole thing as a sham.

The election was the most tightly contested since military rule ended in 1999 – and not surprisingly the result has proved to be deeply polarising.

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