Mon, Mar 30, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Nigeria votes amid violence, technical glitches

FIERCE CONTEST:Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faced registration trouble alongside other voters who fanned out to more than 120,000 polling stations

Reuters, ABUJA

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, center, and wife wave to lined-up voters in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Boko Haram extremists killed 41 people, including a legislator, and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in the northeast, but millions voted across Nigeria on Saturday in the most closely contested presidential race in the nation’s history.

In electoral violence elsewhere, three people, including a soldier, were shot and killed in political thuggery in southern Rivers State, and two car bombs exploded at polling stations in the southeast but no one was injured, police officials said.

All the Boko Haram attacks took place in northeastern Nigeria, where the military on Friday said it had cleared the extremists from all major population centers.

The elections that started on Saturday and continued into yesterday after glitches and attacks were described as “largely peaceful” and orderly by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ban condemned the Boko Haram attacks and said he is “encouraged by the determination and resilience shown by the Nigerian people in pressing forward and exercising their civic duties in the face of unjustifiable violence,” his office said in a statement.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, 57, and his People’s Democratic Party face a united opposition led by former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a 72-year-old northern Muslim who has lost three previous elections.

Voting at the 120,000 stations nationwide was beset with problems from the start, as officials turned up late and biometric card readers, introduced to prevent the vote-rigging that has marred previous polls, failed to work.

Jonathan suffered a 40-minute delay as officials tried to get four machines to recognize his fingerprint.

“I’m very hopeful,” he said of his chances for re-election after voting.

With up to 56.7 million voters to process, the election commission extended voting into yesterday in districts that experienced problems. It was not clear what impact this would have on the timing of the result.

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