Abuja, Nigeria: Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has announced the postponement of the elections in some parts of Lagos, Rivers and Anambra States following disruption of the exercise due to violence.
INEC said elections in Akuku Toru and Bonny local government areas of Rivers State as well as some parts of Anambra and Lagos would be conducted on a later date, saying mostly affected is the contest for the federal legislative seats.
The Commission says “The commission has received reports of violence and ballot box snatching in some areas leading to the disruption of the process. We have asked the Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs and the Electoral Officials on ground to submit their first hand reports in relation to some of these incidents.
“We are still receiving reports relating to incidences in some states of the federation but we have received reports relating to incidences in Akuku Toru and Bonny local government areas of Rivers State.
“So long as the commission could not deploy in these areas, the implication is that voting did not take place in those areas and the commission will hold consultations with the relevant authorities and the Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs in relation to these areas and will announce the date when polls will take place in some of these areas, especially in relation to the areas as they affect the House of Representatives and Senatorial elections.
“It is not only in Rivers that we had reports of burning of electoral materials. We have such reports from Anambra and Lagos states as well as some other places.”
Vote-counting has started in Nigeria’s much-anticipated election, a week after it was postponed by election officials who blamed logistical challenges.
The country’s 73 million voters will choose between dozens of presidential candidates, including incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term to take the country to the “next level.”
The other front-runner is Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and businessman who has promised to jump start Nigeria’s economy. The Associated Press reported both lead candidates cast their votes on Saturday, Buhari jokingly checking his wife’s ballot to see how she had voted.
Analysts say the race is too close to call, AP reported. But both candidates have said they’re confident they will win.
On Saturday, Buhari responded to journalists asking if he would accept defeat and congratulate the winner if he loses: “I will congratulate myself,” he said laughingly. “I’m going to be the winner. Thank you very much.”
Buhari’s main challenger, Abubakar, also answered confidently when asked about the outcome of the presidential vote. “I look forward to a successful transition,” Abubakar said. Asked what he would do if he loses, he replied, “I am a democrat.”
Observers say preliminary results are expected in two to four days.
The presidential candidates renewed a pact last week aimed at keeping the election peaceful. Four years ago, Buhari was the first-ever opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent president. That election was mainly peaceful, but past elections haven’t been.
“This government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere,” Buhari has vowed.
But gunfire and blasts were heard in several cities before the polls opened.
Suspected Islamist militants attacked a town in northeastern Nigeria on Saturday morning. The Islamic State’s West Africa Province claimed credit, but, at first, the army denied there was an attack. Nigerian security authorities have since acknowledged the attack.
Residents told reporters they fled in response to the attacks: “We are right now running and hiding in the bushes,” Yobe state resident Ibrahim Gobi said.
Some Nigerians said the extremist attack in the country’s northeast kept them away from the polls.
Image: left, Atiku and wife vote; right, Buhari tries to see who his wife voted for