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President Warns Nigerians to Restrict Movements on Election Day


President Olusegun Obasanjo has issued a stern warning to Nigerians to restrict their movements on Saturday, when the country will hold crucial state government elections. Sarah Simpson reports for VOA from Lagos.

In a statement broadcast on state radio and television early Friday, President Olusegun Obasanjo advised citizens to avoid night travel and night movement except "where absolutely necessary."

He added that on Election Day movement should be restricted to only essential purposes, and warned that law enforcement agents will vigorously check suspicious movements by individuals or groups.

Nigeria is beginning a series of key elections that should mark the country's first ever transfer of power from one elected civilian leader to another. Elections for state governors begin on Saturday, presidential elections will follow a week later on the 21 April.

Dozens of people have already died in pre-election violence across the country.

Previous elections in 2003 were marred by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and a major exporter of oil. Yet most Nigerians live in poverty, existing on less than two dollars a day, according to the United Nations.

A former British colony, Nigeria has had a troubled history with much of its 47 years since independence spent under military rule.

Civilian government was restored with the election of President Obasanjo in 1999. President Obasanjo has now completed his maximum two consecutive terms in office and must step down.