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General News of Saturday, 28 January 2023


22 states at high risk of election manipulation - Report

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As preparations for next month’s elections reach an advanced stage, a coalition of 10 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have said 22 Nigerian states are at high risk of election manipulation.

The group made this known in a 26-page ‘Election Manipulation Risk Index (EMRI)’ report released on Friday.

The report is an evidence-based tool designed to curb election manipulation, facilitate strategic election planning and promote citizens oversight of the electoral process, the group said

The 10 CSOs are Yiaga Africa, Center for Journalism Innovation and Development, SBM Intelligence, Dataphye, International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Partners for Electoral Reform, The Albino Foundation, The Kukah Centre and Enough is Enough Nigeria.

The index focuses on six variables for tracking election manipulation. They include INEC capture, voter register manipulation, voter suppression, resistance to the election technology, history of election manipulation, and election litigation.

The researchers said these six indicators reflect a comprehensive understanding of the electoral process and the interplay of actors in the election value-chain.

The EMRI is a qualitative tool of analysis that relies heavily on observation, content analysis and expert interviews. Data collected through these methods are triangulated to reflect how they result in election manipulation.

Following the aggregation of data, the EMRI then highlights the states according to the risk of election manipulation, using a ranking system based on the prevalence of the election manipulation indicators divided into three categories: High Risk, Medium Risk, and Low-Risk states.

The 22 states with high-risk of election manipulation are Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Jigawa.

EMRI also lists 12 states with medium election manipulation risks. The states include Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Zamfara, Kebbi, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa and Cross River.

“Three states are classified as low risk. They include Gombe, Ondo and the Federal Capital Territory,” the report said

The EMRI monitors strategies and tools employed by election stakeholders to manipulate the electoral process.

“The central focus of the EMRI is election administration and It highlights potential risks capable of undermining election integrity. In addition, EMRI outlines mitigation measures to avert the risks posed by these actors,” the report read.

“The central objective of the EMRI is to facilitate systematic and coherent monitoring of the insidious nature of election manipulation in the build-up to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.”

“Though limited in scope, the EMRI can be used by election stakeholders to spotlight issues likely to impact the integrity of the 2023 general elections.

“It should be seen as a rapid scanning tool, rather than an in-depth solution for threats of election manipulation.”

The report warned that attempts to distort election outcomes using manipulation strategies are on the rise.

“Key actors are devising strategies to punctuate electoral preparations and neutralise the impact of laudable reforms aimed at enhancing the integrity of the electoral process.”

Citizens are urged to leverage EMRI as an advocacy tool for mobilisation and campaigns against election manipulation, the report said.

“Election manipulation is conceived as the illegal interference with the electoral process with the intention of influencing the outcome of the elections. It also includes the intentional, illegal actions aimed at changing or influencing or forcing the results of an election, by either depressing or increasing the vote share for a particular candidate or party.”