Nigeria’s Buhari looks to consolidate at state polls

Arturo Kim
March 13, 2019

Millions of eligible voters in Nigeria have stayed away from casting their ballot to elect governors and state assembly members, amid reports of disturbances.

Fears of possible election-related violence have led to the massive deployment of security personnel across the country.

The beaten presidential election candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, said the involvement of the military was "unconstitutional".

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has emerged victorious in the governorship election held in Kwara State.

The military has beefed up its presence in certain states, such as oil-rich Rivers, and in Benue, the epicenter of clashes in the central part of the country between crop farmers and cattle herders over grazing land that London-based Amnesty International said claimed about 2,000 lives past year.

State governors are usually hotly contested seats being among the nation's most powerful political offices, with some running budgets larger than those of smaller African nations.

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Nigerian paper This Day also reported that at least 10 people working for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were kidnapped in northwestern state of Katsina during Saturday's polls. "But no one was injured", civil servant Elizabeth Ukah said of the polling station in the Gwar East local government area of Benue. Voter apathy after a troubled presidential election two weeks ago was also a factor, it said.

The presidential election, which eventually took place on February 23, was delayed by a week after the electoral commission was unable to get ballots and results sheets to all areas on time.

In Ebonyi state, community youth leader Chuma Edeh confirmed that a registration area centre was burned by suspected thugs. Nigeria's electoral commission uses the centers to distribute materials and handle logistics.

Enaboh said, "Since yesterday after the election, we have been receiving reports of insecurity, molestation, harassment and assault of our staff and ad-hoc staff". The turnout in the presidential election was 35 per cent, continuing a downward trend.

Adding to tensions this time is a court ruling barring any APC candidates from standing in the gubernatorial election because of procedural irregularities in the selection process.An AFP reporter in the Rivers state capital, Port Harcourt, said there was a heavy military presence on the streets.

Nigeria's top anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in a Twitter post said it had intercepted "bags of cash meant for vote-buying".

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