A leading candidate for governor of Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno was shot dead on Friday in the city of Maiduguri, prompting residents to desert the streets as the police and army stepped up patrols.
Modu Fannami Gubio, the candidate in April polls for the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP), was followed from a mosque after Friday prayers by gunmen on motorbikes and shot with six others as they got out of a jeep outside his home, witnesses said.
The younger brother of state governor Ali Modu Sheriff was also killed in the attack. Sheriff, who is also from the ANPP, is close to the end of his second term as governor of Borno.
"Modu Fannami Gubio has been killed along with six others after Jummat (Friday) prayers in the Lawan Bukar area of Maiduguri," Borno state police commissioner Mohamed Jinjiri Abubakar told Reuters.
Two plain clothes policemen were among the dead.
Maiduguri is seen as one of the main flashpoints ahead of presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections in Africa's most populous nation in three months' time, and residents deserted the streets fearing reprisal attacks.
One senior ANPP official warned privately the government might have to declare a state of emergency in Borno if the violence continued.
Armed police patrolled the streets of Maiduguri, which sits in one of Nigeria's poorest regions near its northeastern borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the Sahel, a strip of savannah on the southern edge of the Sahara desert.
ReutersLast Mod: 29 Ocak 2011, 14:37