Deaths mar Nigeria elections

At least 21 people were killed during state elections in Nigeria, according to a senior police officer.

Deaths mar Nigeria elections
Saturday's polls were seen as a test of the electoral system ahead of next week's presidential vote, which will set up the first-ever transfer of power between two elected leaders in Africa's most populous nation.
"We have about 21 persons killed, including some police officers, while trying to protect INEC [Independent National Electoral Commission] officers," Inspector General Sunday Ehindero told Radio Nigeria.
"Of course we have some wounded too - about 14. We have some arms recovered. We have about 218 suspects arrested," he added.

The Vanguard newspaper said that 52 people had died across the country on Saturday as voters chose state parliamentarians and governors.
Other newspapers also reported more than 40 dead.With initial election results expected on Sunday, Ehindero called for calm and said losers should follow due process and "eschew violence."

"Elections are by and large a competition for power. Some parties are bound to win and some parties are bound to lose," he said. "The losers should be gallant in defeat."

Security was tight on Sunday ahead of the results with soldiers deployed on the streets of many Nigerian cities.

Election results

"Only complete and definitive election results will be announced. There is no provision for release of bits and and pieces of result for any election," an INEC statement said.

Ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities were reported in several places and the European Union observer mission reported a number of "worrisome" incidents.

Voting in some areas was hampered by the the late or non-arrival of voting materials and confusion over voter registration, witnesses said.

Ken Nnamani, the Senate president from the ruling People's Democratic Party said there was almost no voting in his native Enugu in southeastern Nigeria because ballots never arrived or arrived very late.

"The exercise was an abysmal failure. If they call a result in Enugu it will be based on manipulation. I'm concerned about the legitimacy of the emerging government," he said.

Youths protesting the absence of ballots in the southern Anambra and Delta states set fire to three INEC offices, while an election officer was stripped naked and abducted in the eastern Ebonyi state.

Maurice Iwu, electoral commission chairman, told state television on Saturday that he had reports of a "few problems here and there" but called the vote "a very good first effort in our transition to move from one elected civilian government to another".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Nisan 2007, 16:11