March 2. 2024. 3:25

The Daily

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Nigerian elections: Results awaited after voting marred by shots and money seizures

Millions of Nigerians are awaiting the results of Saturday’s election, which will decide who the next president of Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy will be for the next four years.

The election has been a huge endeavour, with more than 93 million registered voters. Final results are expected to take several days.

The lead candidates for president are Bola Tinubu, a 70 year old from the ruling All Progressives Congress; Atiku Abubakar, a 76 year old from the main opposition People’s Democratic party; and 61 year old Peter Obi, a surprise third candidate representing the relatively unknown Labour Party. Obi’s support – particularly from young Nigerians – has threatened the monopoly of Nigeria’s two main political parties, which have been in power since the end of military rule nearly 14 years ago.

[ Nigeria election: Voting closes in tightly contested presidential race ]

More than half of all polling stations opened late on Saturday, according to non-profit civic hub Yiaga Africa, with the situation particularly bad in the country’s south. The winner needs to achieve 25 per cent of the vote across two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states. A new parliament will also be elected.

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There were various reports of disruptions and irregularities. A video from a polling station in economic capital Lagos, which was shared by the New York Times, showed shots being fired on Saturday as armed gunmen stole ballot boxes. Police said a local politician in Rivers State, southeast Nigeria, had been arrested on the eve of the election with nearly half a million dollars in bank notes. That same day, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency said it had seized 32.4 million naira (€70,287) which it said was “allegedly meant for vote buying”. On Wednesday night, senatorial candidate Oyibo Chukwu was killed when armed men opened fire on his convoy as it was coming back from a campaign event.

In recent weeks, there have been riots and protests after Nigeria changed its currency, without enough of the new notes seemingly being available. Analysts said the switch was an attempt to stop politicians from stockpiling notes and buying votes ahead of the election.

[ Nigerians vote a day late in some places as election count under way ]

Outgoing Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015. He served two terms and is now stepping down, as is constitutionally required. The 80 year old, who was previously a military ruler in the 1980s, was elected after vowing to act against corruption and restore stability. But he leaves at a time when insecurity is spreading.

For nearly 14 years now, northeast Nigeria has been experiencing a devastating Islamic insurgency which has displaced millions of people and resulted in an unknown number of deaths. More recently, more than one million people have been displaced in northwest and northcentral Nigeria amid a banditry problem, which sees armed groups terrorise civilians and kidnap people for money. Nigeria’s southeast is also plagued by violence from armed gangs and suspected separatist groups.