Nigeria election: The mystery of the altered results in disputed poll
A BBC investigation has found evidence suggesting some results from Nigeria’s presidential election may have been manipulated. The winner Bola Tinubu is due to be inaugurated on 29 May but the opposition is challenging this.
The BBC has uncovered significant anomalies in Rivers state, a key battleground, although not sufficient to change the overall national outcome of the election, which took place in February. There are also questions over the identity of an election official who read out some of the unexplained results.
How votes are counted in Nigeria
On 25 February, Nigerians cast their votes at thousands of polling stations across the country. At each polling station, the votes for the party of each candidate were publicly announced and the results sheets taken for collation first at the ward level, then at local government (LGA) centres. An election official from each LGA then travelled to the state capital, where these results were officially declared.
For the first time in a Nigerian election, photographs of the polling station results sheets were published online by the electoral commission. This made it possible to add up all the polling station sheets and to compare them with the results declared at the state level.
What we found in Rivers state
We added up the voting tally sheets from over 6,000 polling stations in Rivers state, where many of the opposition complaints had been made. While the official result in this state gave a clear majority to Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), our tally suggested that Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) had actually received most votes in the state by a wide margin.
We found an increase of just over 106,000 in Mr Tinubu’s vote in the official declaration when compared with our polling station tally – almost doubling his total in the state. In contrast, Mr Obi’s vote had fallen by over 50,000. It’s important to make clear that although we searched through the election website for every single one of the 6,866 polling stations in Rivers state, we were not able to obtain results from all of them.
Some were incorrectly uploaded, others were missing, even after a month from the date of polling. For about 5% of polling stations, the photos of tally sheets were too blurred for us to read. It’s reasonable to assume that the official count would have included these as they would have had the original documents.
In another 17%, there were no results at all. Many of these would have been places where no voting took place due to security issues or the non-arrival of voting materials. Others had technical problems preventing officials uploading the documents.
So there clearly would have been more polling stations included in the final official results that weren’t included in the BBC investigation. However, these additional tally sheets would have increased the totals for each party, not decreased them. And what we found was that the votes for Peter Obi’s Labour Party had decreased sharply in Rivers state.
Suit against Tinubu’s inauguration: Court directs FCT residents to address it on jurisdiction
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, asked some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in the suit seeking to stop the May 29 inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, to address it on whether it has jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo also asked the plaintiffs represented by Mr. Anyaegbunam Okoye and four others to address the court on whether they have the legal right to file the suit and whether the matter is not already before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), sitting in Abuja.
The plaintiffs, representing other residents and registered voters of the FCT in the suit, which has the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) as respondents, want the court to determine whether they would not be discriminated against if any state within Nigeria was substituted for the FCT for the purpose of the application of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to determine whether any candidate in the February 25 presidential election in the country may validly be declared elected and sworn in as president without obtaining at least 25 percent of the votes cast in the FCT.
They equally want the court to restrain the swearing in of any person on May 29 or on any other date until the issues raised in the summons have been determined as well as an order setting aside or suspending any declaration or issuance of a certificate of return to any candidate in the February 25 presidential election except it was judicially determined.
The plaintiffs sought an order restraining the CJN, or any other judicial officer from swearing in any candidate in the February 25 presidential election as president or vice-president until it was judicially determined with finality in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. This, according to them, is with effect to the fact that such a candidate had fulfilled the requirements of Section 134 (2) of the constitution.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till May 18, 2023 for the plaintiffs to address the court on the issue of jurisdiction, locus standi (legal right) and whether the matter is not already before the Presidential Election Petition Court.