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Nigeria Strives To Avoid Further Election Violence

A man cast his vote during the National Assembly election at a polling station in Ibadan, Nigeria, April 9, 2011
A man cast his vote during the National Assembly election at a polling station in Ibadan, Nigeria, April 9, 2011

An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the electoral body will continue working with all security agencies in effort to prevent future violence in the run up to the presidential vote scheduled for Saturday.

Nick Dazan, INEC assistant director of public affairs, says the electoral body regrets the bomb attacks and other violence ahead of the parliamentary elections that were held over the weekend.

“The commission regrets the violence that greeted the election, especially a day before the election…But the commission and Nigerians are determined that this violence is not going to affect the conduct of this particular election and subsequent ones. And this resolve is expressed in the large number of Nigerians that turned up for the elections,” said Dazan.

“The commission is working assiduously with the security agencies to make sure that any such subsequent violent attempts are nipped in the bud…We have sensitized Nigerians who are keen on having a process that is transparent, that is free, fair and credible, to be very alert and, once they witness anything untoward that is happening, they should report this to the security agencies immediately,” he added.

On Friday, police say gunmen in Borno state shot and killed four people as they prepared to distribute election materials. Police say one of those killed was an official from the ruling People's Democratic Party [PDP].

Incidents also were reported in the Niger Delta, where voter materials were hijacked in one area. In spite of the violence, there were positive reports of high voter turnout. The polls went ahead after two postponements. Last week's vote was cancelled because voting materials were not available

Dazan says Nigerians were not deterred by the violence by coming out to vote in large numbers.

“The commission is highly grateful to the security agencies and the ad hoc staff for the courage that they demonstrated in the course of this first phase of this election. We are working with them [security agencies]. As you are aware, the commission has a consultative forum with the various security agencies and we are working day and night with them to make sure that the next set of elections is secured,” said Dazan.

“Those who were wounded during the attack were encouraging the chairman of the electoral commission [Attahiru Jega] to go ahead with the election, not to be deterred because they have seen that he is resolved to give Nigerians elections that are wholesome, elections that are free and fair and elections that are credible,” he added.

Meanwhile, election results show the opposition scoring some major victories over the ruling PDP.

Nigerian newspapers report the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was beaten in his home constituency by a candidate from the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN].

The daughter of former president Olusegun Obasanjo also lost to an ACN candidate. The overall trend suggests the ACN will win many races in Nigeria’s southwest, where the economic capital, Lagos, is located.

Another party, the Congress for Progressive Change, was making a strong showing in the north.