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Light Voter Turnout on Second Day of Nigeria's Warri Region Municipal Elections

  • Nico Colombant

A second day of voting in staggered municipal elections is taking place in Nigeria's troubled, but oil rich city of Warri, amid tight security.

Heavy security but few visible voters marked the second day of polling Friday for local governments in three of Warri's councils, in the south, southwest and northern areas.

The election was extended because voting materials had not appeared at several polling stations on Thursday. Many would-be voters also said they couldn't find the polling booths.

Despite these difficulties, electoral officials said they hoped those who wished to vote would now be able to cast their ballots. Many candidates from the ruling People's Democratic Party ran unopposed, making voting unnecessary in parts of the city.

Leaders of the ethnic Ijaw community have called on their followers to boycott the process. They accuse the ruling party and leaders of the ethnic Itsekiri community of drawing up most voting boundaries to their advantage.

A London-based analyst, Alex Vines, who was recently in Nigeria says the heavy security and presence of armed militias make many people too afraid to vote.

"There is intimidation, there is harassment, there is the proliferation of light weapons," he said. "Often these aren't actually used but they are used as instruments of intimidation and harassment, just young people carrying these weapons. That makes any democratic process extremely difficult."

Nationwide local elections were held in March, but postponed in Warri because of fears of violence. Thousands of people die every year in sectarian and criminal gang-related violence in the southern oil rich but impoverished Niger Delta region.