Nigeria`s opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari earned a massive victory in the key northern state of Kano, beating his rival, President Goodluck Jonathan, by nearly 1.7 million votes, official presidential election results released Monday said.
Buhari`s victory in Kano in the polls held Saturday and Sunday had been expected, with the margin of victory seen as crucial to his chances nationally.
The 72-year-old former army general is from neighbouring Katsina state and like most in Kano is a Muslim from the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group.
Buhari won 1,903,999 votes in Kano, which is Nigeria`s second most populous state after Lagos, the southern economic capital.
Jonathan, who hopes to contain his losses in the north, won 215,799 votes.
Buhari beat Jonathan in Kano by roughly a million votes in 2011.
Kano is among the Nigerian states hit hardest by Boko Haram Islamists, where many have criticised Jonathan`s handling of the insurgency.
Aside from tribal and religiously allegiances, Buhari`s effort to play up is national security credentials may have helped boost his margin of victory among Kano`s frequently-attacked population.
The president and his Peoples Democratic Party are expected to run-up huge majorities in the southeast, perhaps offsetting Buhari`s wins in the north.
Results were expected to trickle in overnight on Monday after a closely fought campaign.