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.Image caption,
Example of a tally sheet from a single polling station, one of almost 177,000 across Nigeria
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.
So how can the sharp fall in votes for Peter Obi – in the official result – be explained?
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGESImage caption,
Peter Obi has contested the outcome of the vote in Rivers state
Where were the biggest discrepancies?
Two areas stood out.
The first was the Oyigbo local government area, where we found:
- The vote for Bola Tinubu was six times larger in the officially announced results compared with the BBC’s polling station count
- Peter Obi’s votes had been cut in half
The second local government area where we found major discrepancies was in nearby Obio/Akpor:
- The official result for Mr Tinubu was 80,239 votes, but we counted just 17,293 votes from polling station tallies
- The count for Mr Obi was announced officially as just 3,829 votes, but the BBC counted 74,033 votes for him on the tally sheets
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