Nigeria poll violence: 21 dead


Summary

With the presidential and general elections to be held next Saturday, tensions in the sprawling west African nation have mounted.

Soldiers fanned out across major cities in the continent's top oil producer for a second day to quell election-related unrest after serious irregularities and violence marred Saturday's regional vote.

"We have about 21 persons killed including some police officers while trying to protect INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) officers," national police boss Sunday Ehindero told Radio Nigeria after Saturday's vote.

"Of course we have some wounded too — about 14. We have some arms recovered. We have about 218 suspects arrested."

Local media gave wildly divergent figures for Saturday's casualties, ranging from about 40 to more than 130, but all were far higher than official police figures. Ehindero said his figure of 21 deaths could yet rise.

"As of now, it could be more than that. We have 87 cases reported throughout the country, including arson, murder cases, thumb-printing of ballot papers etc," he said.

The regional vote is being seen as a litmus test for the success of next Saturday's elections, expected to usher in Nigeria's first civilian-to-civilian transition since the former British colony gained independence in 1960.

Police have banned any form of gathering in support or against the results of Saturday's polls amid fears of serious unrest in key states such as Lagos, where the governorship is a position of considerable clout.

"There should be no form of procession. No form of demonstration will be tolerated at this stage, at least in the next 48 hours," Ehindero said.

His statement came as electoral officials announced complete results in twelve out of 36 states — Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Borno, Abia, Oyo, Gombe, Ebonyi, Katsina and three oil states: Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in ten states while opposition parties won in two.

Results of governorship elections in a 13th state, the southeastern Imo State, were cancelled for electoral malpractice, INEC spokesman Philip Umeadi said, live on national television.

Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, who led the country briefly as a military ruler and later served two terms as a civilian president, voted in his native city of Abeokuta but his ballot was cancelled along with others as the entire result of the area was cancelled due to irregularities.

According to witnesses, eight ballot boxes were hijacked in different polling centres, an action which led to street protests by voters.

Meanwhile, the governorship of Lagos State — home to Nigeria's economic capital and a key province — was won by Babatunde Raji Fashiola, a member of the Action Congress party in a blow for Obasanjo's ruling PDP.

The PDP had said several times that winning Lagos, in the hands of the opposition Action Congress for the past eight years, was very important for the party which controls 28 of Nigeria's 36 states.

Tensions have been fuelled in Nigeria by irregularities which the European Union observer mission called "worrisome".

Security remained tight across the country as the results trickled in, notably in Lagos where soldiers manned dozens of road blocks and searched vehicles and individuals.

Soldiers were also deployed on the streets of other large cities such Akure, Abeokuta, Osogbo, Bauchi, Ilorin and Gombe, according to Radio Nigeria.

Nigeria's National Broadcasting Corporation said 13 radio and television stations across the country had been fined for breaching electoral laws by airing election broadcasts less than 24 hours before polling began.

Six of the 13 channels — including South Africa's DSTV — the continent's largest satellite television channel — are privately owned.


With the presidential and general elections to be held next Saturday, tensions in the sprawling west African nation have mounted.

Soldiers fanned out across major cities in the continent's top oil producer for a second day to quell election-related unrest after serious irregularities and violence marred Saturday's regional vote.

"We have about 21 persons killed including some police officers while trying to protect INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) officers," national police boss Sunday Ehindero told Radio Nigeria after Saturday's vote.

"Of course we have some wounded too — about 14. We have some arms recovered. We have about 218 suspects arrested."

Local media gave wildly divergent figures for Saturday's casualties, ranging from about 40 to more than 130, but all were far higher than official police figures. Ehindero said his figure of 21 deaths could yet rise.

"As of now, it could be more than that. We have 87 cases reported throughout the country, including arson, murder cases, thumb-printing of ballot papers etc," he said.

The regional vote is being seen as a litmus test for the success of next Saturday's elections, expected to usher in Nigeria's first civilian-to-civilian transition since the former British colony gained independence in 1960.

Police have banned any form of gathering in support or against the results of Saturday's polls amid fears of serious unrest in key states such as Lagos, where the governorship is a position of considerable clout.

"There should be no form of procession. No form of demonstration will be tolerated at this stage, at least in the next 48 hours," Ehindero said.

His statement came as electoral officials announced complete results in twelve out of 36 states — Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Borno, Abia, Oyo, Gombe, Ebonyi, Katsina and three oil states: Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in ten states while opposition parties won in two.

Results of governorship elections in a 13th state, the southeastern Imo State, were cancelled for electoral malpractice, INEC spokesman Philip Umeadi said, live on national television.

Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, who led the country briefly as a military ruler and later served two terms as a civilian president, voted in his native city of Abeokuta but his ballot was cancelled along with others as the entire result of the area was cancelled due to irregularities.

According to witnesses, eight ballot boxes were hijacked in different polling centres, an action which led to street protests by voters.

Meanwhile, the governorship of Lagos State — home to Nigeria's economic capital and a key province — was won by Babatunde Raji Fashiola, a member of the Action Congress party in a blow for Obasanjo's ruling PDP.

The PDP had said several times that winning Lagos, in the hands of the opposition Action Congress for the past eight years, was very important for the party which controls 28 of Nigeria's 36 states.

Tensions have been fuelled in Nigeria by irregularities which the European Union observer mission called "worrisome".

Security remained tight across the country as the results trickled in, notably in Lagos where soldiers manned dozens of road blocks and searched vehicles and individuals.

Soldiers were also deployed on the streets of other large cities such Akure, Abeokuta, Osogbo, Bauchi, Ilorin and Gombe, according to Radio Nigeria.

Nigeria's National Broadcasting Corporation said 13 radio and television stations across the country had been fined for breaching electoral laws by airing election broadcasts less than 24 hours before polling began.

Six of the 13 channels — including South Africa's DSTV — the continent's largest satellite television channel — are privately owned.