As preparations for next month’s elections reach an advanced stage, a coalition of 10 civil society organizations (CSOs) has said that 22 states in Nigeria are at high risk of electoral manipulation.

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

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

The 10 CSOs are yiaga africa, Journalistic Innovation and Development CenterSBM Intelligence, Dataphye, International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Partners for Electoral Reform, The Albino Foundation, The Kukah Center and Enough is Enough Nigeria.

The index focuses on six variables to track electoral manipulation. They include the capture of INEC, voter registration rigging, voter suppression, resistance to election technology, the history of election rigging, and election litigation.

Map of Nigeria showing states with medium risk of electoral manipulation

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

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

After data aggregation, the EMRI then highlights states based on voter rigging risk, using a ranking system based on the prevalence of voter rigging indicators divided into three categories: high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk states. .

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The 22 states with high risk of electoral 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 risks of election rigging. 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 says.

The EMRI monitors the strategies and tools used by electoral actors to manipulate the electoral process.

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“EMRI’s central focus is election administration and highlights potential risks that can undermine electoral integrity. In addition, EMRI outlines mitigation measures to avoid the risks posed by these actors,” the report reads.

Map of Nigeria showing states with low risk of electoral manipulation
Map of Nigeria showing states with low risk of electoral manipulation

“The central objective of EMRI is to facilitate systematic and consistent monitoring of the insidious nature of electoral manipulation in the run-up to the 2023 Nigerian general election.”

“Although limited in scope, EMRI can be used by election stakeholders to highlight issues likely to affect the integrity of the 2023 general election.

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“It should be seen as a quick scan tool, rather than a deep solution for election rigging threats.”

The report warned that attempts to distort election results through manipulation strategies are on the rise.

“Key players are devising strategies to sharpen electoral preparations and neutralize the impact of laudable reforms aimed at improving the integrity of the electoral process.”

Citizens are encouraged to take advantage of EMRI as an advocacy tool for mobilization and campaigns against election rigging, according to the report.

“Electoral manipulation is conceived as the illegal interference in the electoral process with the intention of influencing the outcome of the elections. It also includes intentional and illegal actions intended to change, influence, or force the results of an election, either by depressing or increasing the vote share for a particular candidate or party.”

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