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Nigerian Elections: Candidates, as Revealed by WikiLeaks Cables, Still Register to Vote Multiple Times

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Screen shot of an Al Jazeera English report on the elections in Nigeria.

Nigerian elections that had been postponed until Monday, April 4th, have been postponed yet again by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is headed by Professor Attahiru Jega. From the INEC headquarters, the rescheduling was announced by Jega, who said since announcing the rescheduling several requests made to the Commission have urged it to consult more widely and ensure the two-day postponement addresses all logistical issues.

The Commission consulted with the Chairmen of all the political parties in Nigeria and decided the best thing to do would be to reschedule the already rescheduled elections. Thus, the elections, assuming no more logistical problems (corruption) get in the way, will be held on the following dates: Saturday, April 9, Senate and House of Representatives Elections; Saturday, April 16, Presidential Elections, Tuesday, April 26, State of House of Assembly and Governorship Elections."

This announcement undoubtedly means a tense pre-election social and political climate that has already seen hundreds killed in what Amnesty International calls "politically-motivated, communal and sectarian violence" will continue to persist.

When held, this will be Nigeria's third general election since military rule ended in 1999. The country has held two previous elections in 2003 and 2007. Both elections resulted in allegations of rigging, voter intimidation and ballot vote snatching.

US State Embassy cables from Nigeria released by WikiLeaks to NEXT, a leading source for Nigerian news and commentary, show a country with a political class that is fundamentally corrupt. Political candidates vote multiple times, individuals can assume the presidency unconstitutionally, and the country's ruling party is primarily a sect of crony elites wishing to hold on to access to money and power.

A cable from December 29, 2008, indicates then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan voted four times in the 2007 election:

On December 17, Pol-Econ [political-economic] Chief and PolOff [political officer] called on the newly installed governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, at his offices in Benin City to discuss his recent success before the Appeals Court and the challenges facing his administration. Oshiomhole told PolOffs that he was able to successfully challenge the decision of the Independent National Election Commission, which had declared the Peoples Democratic Party candidate Oserheimen Osunbor the winner of the 2007 gubernatorial elections, in the courts because of the help of unpaid volunteers. He noted he had roughly 2,000 volunteers, who had worked at 120 polling places, and seven graduate students, who had systematically gone through ballots, result sheets and voter registration records line-by-line to produce documentary evidence of fraud.

Oshiomhole told PolOffs that it proved impossible to use forensic evidence because of the poor quality of thumbprints and that claims of intimidation also proved difficult to prove in a court of law, but documentary evidence, such as proof that the "Vice President" had voted four times, for example, proved decisive in the courts.

Contextualizing the revelation, NEXT adds that the allegation that now-President Jonathan helped himself win by voting four times is an allegation known to INEC . A source at the country's electoral commission told NEXT that Jonathan was just "a high profile example of the rife multiple registrations that took place in Bayelsa, Mr. Jonathan's home state, where he had served as governor, and other states in the broader Delta region." The source told NEXT other public figures had also voted several times.

Late Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, as revealed in one of the Nigerian cables, bypassed Jonathan , his vice-president, when his health became too much of a problem for him. He handed presidential duties over to Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation at the time.

In a cable September 17, 2008, Ahmed notes "Yar'Adua had asked him to take over a lot of the day-to-day Executive responsibilities due to his health, and the new SGF said he would like to come to the U.S. in October so that he could meet directly with senior USG officials in his new capacity as SGF." NEXT concludes, "The 59-year-old secretary to the government, apparently ran Nigeria, performing the functions of the president, while late president Yar'Adua lay sick, unable to discharge his duties." The news organization also emphasizes the fact that Jonathan was "blocked" from being granted duties as Yar'Adua was dying.

Even after it became clear that the late president had become incapacitated and would no longer be able to perform the functions of his office, the cabal around him still blocked Mr. Jonathan from ascending to the position of acting president, until the National Assembly and the Nigeria Governors' Forum stepped in.

As NEXT notes, this demonstrates Jonathan was "illegally bypassed." That he was bypassed might not be all that surprising if you ask former US Ambassador Robin Sanders, who sent a cable on October 24, 2008 listing out Nigeria's most influential personalities. Jonathan did not appear on the list.

NEXT is not sure why Jonathan did not appear:

"Conspicuously missing on the list -- which had Turai, the late president's wife, members of Mr. Yar'Adua inner circle, some governors, legislators, businesspersons, regional leaders and traditional rulers -- was our country's vice president at the time. It is curious that he was omitted from the list despite being a person of tremendous influence in the Niger Delta region and presiding over the amnesty programme (which tried to get the Niger Delta insurgency to abandon militancy). He also performed his very important constitutional role of overseeing the National Economic Council at the time.

Finally, a cable sent out on October 19, 2007, describes the ruling Nigerian Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) as a political party that cannot be viewed as a party "within the common western understanding."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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