Lagos (Nigeria) Six police officers and five civilians were killed Saturday as Nigerians were casting their ballots for the state gubernatorial and parliamentary polls, but despite that, the voters showed their resolve to make the day a democratic triumph for the country.
In the early hours of Saturday, unidentified assailants set ablaze two police stations in Port Harcourt (the capital of the oil-rich Rivers State south of Lagos), killing six officers.
Preliminary indications are that sympathisers of dissident movements active in the Niger Delta stated the attack.
In the neighbouring state of Bayelsa, clashes between sympathisers of various political factions killed three people, while two others died in a similar Lagos fighting, despite the state government’s order restricting movement of people.
On its part, the Federal government came in to place the army and the police in a state of alert, closing the country’s land and sea borders Saturday from 0600 to 1800.
Local press reports said the measure aims at barring the entry of foreigners, some of whom were already reported to have crossed from Benin to vote in the eastern state of Kwara, or from Niger to cast ballots in the northern state of Borno.
But voting unfolded smoothly and promptly despite delays in the opening of the polling stations, with the verification of voter entries on electoral rolls beginning at 10.30 am in a few areas.
President Olusegun Obasanjo cast his ballot at 09.35 am in the Ogun State city of Abeokuta near Lagos, shortly before the outbreak of fresh political violence.
The APA correspondent observed that in Lagos, a number of polling stations failed to open at 0800 as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Yet overall, turn-out was high in some areas despite the reported violence.
“The operations are going on smoothly and people are showing self-discipline as they want things to get all right so the transition between two civil rules takes place in the best way,” sisters Bisola and Bola Obitusin said.
They lamented the violence and the deaths, blaming them on “people who do not want to vote,” adding there is need to “show ill-intentioned people that Nigeria is capable of experiencing long-term democracy,” both sisters said in unison.
But A.D, a Nigerian journalist, appeared less optimistic, saying violence is among “the country’s habits”.
“I have ceased being sorry for my county long ago. Violence is a tradition that goes with elections in our country. I think about thirty deaths will be reported by the end of the day,” the journalist heralded.
Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, email@example.com tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa