nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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At least 11 killed and 38 wounded

Nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast

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Arab Today, arab today Nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast

Ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari
Lagos - AFP

Ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari Nigerians shook off fears of violence and gathered on Saturday for twice-delayed parliamentary polls, the start of a crucial vote period, hours

after a deadly bomb blast rocked an electoral office. Polling stations in numerous areas of Africa's most populous nation had opened Saturday morning in stark contrast to the week before, when organisational chaos led officials to pull the plug at around midday. However, some areas had not started, and the election was postponed in Suleija, the area near the capital Abuja hit by Friday's bomb blast that killed at least 11 people and wounded 38 in an attack President Goodluck Jonathan called "heinous".

No one had claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred as electoral workers, including members of the national youth service corps, made final preparations.
Polling places opened at or near the 8:00 am (0700 GMT) start time in a number of areas in the economic capital Lagos as well as in Abuja and the country's second-largest city of Kano in the north.
Jonathan's voting station in his home state of Bayelsa in the oil-producing Niger Delta region was among those that did not function a week ago, but on Saturday it opened about 90 minutes after the scheduled start time. "I believe that today will be different," Fatai Awofolaju, an electoral official in Lagos, said at a polling place that had opened on time.
The effect the postponements and the bombing would have on turnout was not yet clear, with there appearing to be fewer voters than the week before in some areas but more in others.
"What bombing?" Bode Oshowole, a 61-year-old printer, said at a Lagos polling station. "We don't have problems here."
A lawyer lining up at one Lagos polling station said the blast should not be allowed to mar the vote. An electoral official at the same polling unit said "they are trying to instill fear into us, but it will not work."
"Nigeria cannot be turned into another Afghanistan or Iraq," said Nnamdi Ekweogu, adding that electoral officials had been told to report any suspicious movements.
Following the bombing, Jonathan ordered an immediate increase in security at electoral offices, and soldiers could be seen patrolling in strategic areas and manning checkpoints.
Another attack by gunmen occurred Friday in Nigeria's northeast at a police station where voting materials were being stored, leading to four deaths. The country, Africa's largest oil producer, was already planning virtual lockdown for the election, with land borders shut and restrictions on vehicle movements. Parliamentary polls are the first of three crucial elections this month being seen as a test of whether Nigeria can organise a credible vote after years of violent and deeply flawed ballots.
A handful of districts will not hold the election on Saturday due to organisational problems and will instead vote on April 26, when governorship and state ballots will also take place.
The presidential election is set for April 16, with Jonathan the favourite and his main challenger seen as ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
Tremendous hopes have been placed in a respected academic appointed in June to head the electoral commission, and he has been under intense pressure to deliver.
His decision to pull the plug on parliamentary polls on April 2 hours after they were due to begin, with material and personnel failing to arrive in a large number of areas, at first drew outrage.
But he has since received numerous expressions of support, including from the president, with many arguing it was better to call it off rather than push ahead with a vote that could never be considered credible.
Voting "accreditation" was to occur for the first four hours Saturday -- a verification exercise that would be matched up against the number of ballots cast -- with actual voting to begin at 1130 GMT.

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nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast

 



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nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast nigerians gather to vote after deadly bomb blast

 



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