Elections in Nigeria are rarely ever free and fair (even though major improvements have been made)and Nigerians have become accustomed to accusations and counter-accusations of the rigging of elections by political parties. Nigerian Elections are usually riddled with allegations of electoral fraud/manipulation, voter fraud, and illegal interferences with the electoral process. That said, below are a few ways Elections are rigged:
In a country like Nigeria, Vote buying is easy and sadly, very effective. Party agents basically share money and food items to the electorate before or at the polling units in exchange for votes. The effectiveness of vote-buying should come as no surprise as over 95.1million Nigerians live below the poverty line as of 2022 (according to the world bank). If you are in doubt about how vote-buying works, revisit the reports of the recent governorship election in Ekiti state.
SNATCHING OF BALLOT BOXES/PAPERS IN OPPOSITIONS STRONGHOLD.
Another popular method of rigging is ballot snatching. Candidates send thugs to the polling units where they feel the opposition would garner the most votes to cart away ballot boxes, in hopes that the electoral commission would cancel the election in that polling unit thereby rendering the votes gained by the opposition void
This is similar to ballot snatching. But in this case, the thugs take it a few notches higher by destroying the electoral materials, attacking INEC officials and the electorate causing everyone to scamper for safety. Electoral violence like this leaves the electorate scared, which leads to low voter turnout or cancellation of voting at the polling unit. Negatively affecting the opposition’s results.
CHANGING OF POLLING UNITS
As evident from the local government elections that took place in Lagos last year, there were numerous reports of polling units being changed at the last minute. From Polling units getting changed to different locations, to polling units getting merged and certain polling units becoming nonexistent all without prior notice. Many voters had to go home without casting a vote.
BRIBING OF INEC OFFICIALS
Basically, this is bribing the ad-hoc staff of the electoral commission with money. The ad-hoc staff, who are usually corps members or part-time workers, are most vulnerable and desperate to make quick and easy money. Making it easy for them to fall for offers of huge amounts of money.
THREATS TO INEC OFFICIALS.
Some politicians even go as far as threatening INEC electoral officials and the returning officer. This is easier when the politician trying to rig the election is very influential and has the backing of higher authority. An example of this was during the 2019 elections when the outgoing governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, and other candidates stormed the Imo West collation center in Orlu after the Returning Officer for the district, I.I Ibeabuchi stopped the collation process. Rochas Okorocha, a senatorial candidate of the APC arrived at the center in an attempt “to convince the officer to continue the process. Hours after he declared Mr. Okorocha the winner of the senatorial district, Mr. Ibeabuchi alleged that he was forced to declare the result.
ENSURING LATE ARRIVAL OF ELECTION MATERIALS AT OPPOSITION STRONGHOLDS
By ensuring the delay of arrival of election materials at polling units where your opponent has more influence, the candidate who wants to rig the election has effectively reduced the number of voters who will actually vote. In effect reducing your opponent’s votes as many voters will return home in anger without voting.
TAMPERING WITH INEC LOGISTICS PROCESS
This includes disrupting the transportation of results from polling units, wards, collation centres, designated locations (for collation centers) as well as designated time for collation of results. It also includes unexplained power outages at collation centres, card readers malfunctioning and changing collation venues etc.