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Rigged ballots for Buhari? For Atiku? Both sides recycle dodgy 2015 photo after Nigeria’s 2019 elections postponed

On 16 February 2019 Nigeria’s presidential elections were postponed for a week just hours before voting was to start. The front-running candidates are current President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Within a day a photo claiming votes were being rigged started to circulate on Facebook. It showed a man standing outside a bus with a huge pile of papers. The caption: “A J5 Bus full of thumb printed ballot papers was intercepted by the Nigerian Police in Bida, Niger State yesterday.”

The problem is, the caption had a different preface in different posts, depending on which side the Facebook user supported. Some said: “All the ballot papers have been thumb printed for Buhari.” Others said: “All the ballot papers have been thumb printed for Atiku.”


Photo doing the rounds during Nigeria’s 2015 elections

But the photo couldn’t be of ballots seized by police on the day of the postponed 2019 election because it’s at least four years old.

A Tineye reverse image search shows the photo was first published on the internet in February 2015, when Nigeria held its previous elections. A Google image search reveals a similar date.

A few web posts from February 2015 can be found with unconfirmed reports of a J5 bus full of thumb printed ballot papers being intercepted by Nigerian police in Bida. So while the photo may show vote rigging, it’s not from Nigeria’s 2019 elections. – Mary Alexander (21/02/19)


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