Long queues at polling stations in Nigeria, elections are messy

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Long queues in Lagos, Nigeria
NOS NewsAmended

In Nigeria, presidential election day was a messy day. In many places, voters had to be patient before they could vote. This was partly due to delays in opening the polling stations and technical and logistical problems. Many voters were not deterred from voting anyway, in the hope of a new future.

At the end of the evening, voting was already finished at some polling stations, while at other places no vote had yet been cast. The ballot papers were also quickly used up here and there. Voting can therefore continue for a few hours in various places in the coming day.

In total, more than 93 million people have registered as voters. 40 percent of them are under 35 years old.

Anti-fraud system

The Electoral Commission blames the problems on a new biometric anti-fraud system. That system would suffer from technical malheur in some places. The machines were also not delivered in some places. Systems have even been stolen in two states, according to the commission.

“The elections will go ahead and no one will be disenfranchised,” the head of the electoral commission said on television. The final result is expected within five days.

At most polling stations, voters were able to cast their votes unhindered and polling took place peacefully, despite frustrations about the long waiting times.

In advance, there were fears of violence, which there were in some places. This happened, among other things, in the northeast of the country, where Islamic fighters threw grenades at a polling station. One child was killed, four others were injured. The voting process was also interrupted. According to the Nigerian army, the response was swift and the terrorists were pursued “into the mountains”.

Voter intimidation

In the capital, Abuja, an anti-corruption unit was attacked and in Lagos, police arrested four people for voter intimidation. In that city, journalists from the AP news agency saw armed men driving a van to a polling station, firing shots into the air and stealing the ballot box. The perpetrators left behind many ballots.

The elections are between 70-year-old Bola Tinubu, former vice president Atiki Abubakar (76) and Peter Obi, a 61-year-old businessman who is especially popular among young people. The current president, Buhari, is not participating.

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