Nigeria votes in tight Jonathan-Buhari contest

Nigeria votes in tight Jonathan-Buhari contest

BBC News – Nigerians are going to the polls to elect a president, with incumbent Goodluck Jonathan facing a strong challenge from Muhammadu Buhari.

It is said to be the most closely fought election since independence.

The election was delayed by six weeks to allow the army to recapture territory from militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The two main presidential candidates have pledged to prevent violence during the election and its aftermath.

Despite reports of delays in some areas, election body spokesman Kayode Idowu told the AFP news agency that polling stations have opened and that “accreditation has started”.

Voters need to register first using biometric cards with their fingerprints before they can cast their vote later.

At some polling stations, card readers appear to be working slowly or not at all, BBC reporters on the ground say.

President Jonathan tried for some 50 minutes to register in his home village of Otuoke. A BBC reporter at the scene says he had to come back a second time and when the electronic registration failed again, he had to be accredited manually.

Problems were also reported from the north’s biggest city of Kano, where thousands of voters waited for election officials and voting materials to arrive.

“We’ve been here since six o’clock and now it’s half-past nine,” Ismail Omar, a 65-year-old builder told AFP news agency.

“No-one has shown up from Inec (the Independent National Electoral Commission)… this is a deliberate attempt to sabotage the elections.”

However, Gen Buhari registered in his hometown Daura without any problems and he praised the accreditation system.

“If people are allowed to vote, rigging will actually be impossible under this system,” he said.

Some polling stations opened late and as the BBC’s Will Ross reports from the capital Abuja, long queues are forming outside the stations.

Voters will have to be patient and are likely to spend all day to be able to cast their vote, he says.

The election comes amid heightened security, with police deployed at all polling stations.

The BBC’s Africa Security correspondent Tomi Oladipo reports that gunman have launched an attack in Nafada in Gombe state.

The authorities are reported to have carried out a controlled explosion after a car bomb was discovered at a polling station in Enugu state in south-eastern Nigeria.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated Nigerian politics since 1999, but the All Progressives Congress (APC) is viewed as a serious challenge.

Some 800 people were killed after the 2011 contest between Mr Jonathan and Gen Buhari, a former military ruler.

Voters in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja – the capital – will also elect members of the house of representatives and the senate.

On Friday, the Nigerian army said it had retaken the town of Gwoza, believed to be the headquarters of Boko Haram, one of the last places still under its control.

Categories: Politics
Tags: Nigeria

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