Nigerians vote in `test` poll amid heavy security
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 06, 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.


First Published: Thursday, January 06, 2011, 22:27

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