Ahead of the February 25 and March 11 general elections in Nigeria, Kano State and 21 other states have been identified as having the most significant potential for election manipulation. This is according to an extensive Election Manipulation Risk Index (EMRI) report released by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement (YIAGA).
The EMRI report, released recently, is intended to monitor the chances of election manipulation in the run-up to the general election.
The report also classified 12 states as medium-risk and 3 as low-risk.
According to YIAGA, the EMRI report is intended “to facilitate systematic and coherent monitoring of the insidious nature of election manipulation in the build-up to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.”
In no particular order, following Kano State as a flashpoint state, that is states it regards as “high-risk states” are Sokoto State, Kastina State, Jigawa State, Kaduna State, Plateau State, Bauchi State, Taraba State,
Others are Adamawa State, Niger State, Kwara State, Oyo State, Ekiti State, Osun State, Lagos State, Enugu State, Imo State, Anambra State, Abia State, and Ebonyi State.
The compilation of this report took place over a four-year period from February 2019 to January 2023, taking into account events that played out in elections leading to this year’s general election.
Key variables that resulted in these 22 states being considered “high risk” states are “the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) capture, tampering with the voter register, voter suppression, resistance to election technology like the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), history of election fraud, and election litigation,” the report said.
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The report proffered measures INEC, the security agencies, and the government at all levels can take to mitigate against a high risk of a compromised outcome of the election in these high-risk states, including the medium- and low-risk states.
For INEC capturing, the report stated that “INEC leadership should sustain its nationwide redeployment of INEC officials with tainted records to inspire public confidence.”
It added that “INEC should deploy trusted, incorruptible, and experienced administrative secretaries, heads of ICT, and heads of operations to high-risk states.”
In intensifying its scrutiny of applications for ad hoc personnel recruitment, it suggested that applicants undergo competency tests and publish the names of successful applicants for public scrutiny.
The report contains a number of additional solutions for INEC capturing.
On tampering with the voter register, the key among its many recommendations is the “clean-up of the voter register to remove multiple registrants, fictitious names, and underage registrants.”
On voter suppression, the report stated that “a timely production and distribution of PVCs to all registered voters and a decentralised PVC collection process to ease collection by citizens.”
In response to a perceived opposition to election technology such as BVAS and IReV, the report recommended “enhanced security in storage facilities where the BVAS is stored.”
It added that “restraint on the part of the judiciary to entertain frivolous litigations against the use of the BVAS and IReV”
In states with a high incidence of election fraud, the report suggested that an “increase in public awareness of mitigation measures in the 2022 Electoral Act against election manipulation should be actionable.”
It also included that “INEC should ensure adequate training of its staff to enforce compliance with the Electoral Act of 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guidelines.”
On numerous election litigation occasions, the report asked that the following be carried out: “That the judiciary should dismiss cases instituted to undermine the preparations for the general elections. The Nigerian Bar Association should take disciplinary actions against legal practitioners engaged in election manipulation using the judicial process.”
“And also improved understanding of judicial officers on provisions of the Electoral Act 2022,” it said.
These were the few recommendations chosen from the report.