Nigeria parliamentary poll kicks off, postponed in some districts

2011-04-09 10:04

Abuja – Delayed parliamentary elections in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, kicked off today amid tight security, as polls in about 15 of the 109 senatorial districts were postponed to April 26.

The elections, originally slated to commence on April 2, were postponed following the late arrival of sensitive electoral materials last Saturday.

However, areas where materials were distributed last Saturday would have their own polls on April 26, the Independent National Electoral Commission said.

In a bid to ensure a violence-free elections 17 000 security operatives made up of the police, military and other paramilitary forces, as well as the anti-bomb squad were deployed to strategic locations, while borders have been closed.

At least six people were killed on Friday in a bomb explosion at the Sulieja Electoral office, near Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which is conducting a campaign of sabotage against the oil industry in Africa’s largest oil producer, had threatened to repeat bomb attacks that claimed around a dozen lives late last year. However, the group later retracted that threat.

As early as 7.30am (GMT), voters turned out en masse in parts of the country to queue for accreditation ahead of voting.

A large number of the 73.5 million registered voters were expected to participate in the first set of voting to elect 109 senators, and 360 members of the House of Representatives across the country.

The electoral body has set up 118 973 polling units across the country, while the votes from the units will be collated in 8 809 registration area centres.

International observers from the European Union, Commonwealth, African Union, ECOWAS and others also deploy their members across the country to effectively monitor the elections.

The poll comes ahead of next week’s presidential elections, which incumbent Goodluck Jonathan is favoured to win.

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