Nigerians vote in `test` poll amid heavy security

Last Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 22:27

Asaba: Nigerians on Thursday voted in a key
state governor`s ballot seen as a test ahead of April`s
nationwide elections, with massive security deployed amid
fears of further violence.

The governor`s election in Delta State, located in the
main oil-producing Niger Delta region, came after a court
invalidated the result of the 2007 vote after fraud
allegations and ordered a re-run just months before a new
ballot.

Nigeria has been hit by a series of attacks in recent
weeks, including bomb blasts in the capital Abuja and the
central city of Jos, and authorities were on high alert as
voters went to the polls.

The Niger Delta region has long been hit by unrest
involving criminal gangs and militants claiming to be fighting
for a fairer distribution of oil revenue.

An election office was burnt three days ago in the
Delta State town of Ughelli. Twin bomb blasts also hit a
political rally in the neighbouring state of Bayelsa a week
ago.

"We have deployed 22,600 regular policemen" in
addition to bomb experts and more than 2,800 riot police,
Delta State police spokesman Charles Muka told AFP. "It is the
largest contingent ever deployed for a state election."

About 1.5 million people were eligible and voting
began at noon, officials said.

By mid-afternoon, some districts were beginning to
count after all those eligible had cast ballots. Others were
just starting voting after first having to verify those
registered, electoral commission spokesman Iorwuese Umenger
said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 22:27

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