Friday, 7 January 2011

Niger Delta election overseen by 20,000 police officers

On Thursday 6th January Nigerians in the Niger Delta voted in a key state governor's ballot, ahead of the presidential elections in April. An estimated 20,000 police officers were deployed to the oil rich Niger Delta amid fears of violence and further bomb attacks, which occurred last week.

Nigerian police reported no violence but said it had made arrests in connection to several attempts to steal ballot boxes. The result of previous election in Delta State, in 2007, was annulled by a court because of suspected vote rigging and fraud allegations.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, who flew out from Abuja to Delta State on Tuesday, has campaigned on behalf of Emanuel Uduaghan, a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and governor until the ballot annulment in November. Experts say the Delta State election will test the president's support in the state, ahead of the presidential elections later this year.

In the past, the Delta State elections have been known for outbreaks of violence and unrest, but this time the security was on high alert as voters went to the polls. Just days ago an election office was burned down in the state town of Ughelli, and a double bomb attack hit a political rally in the neighbouring state of Bayelsa. In a bid to ensure a peaceful electoral process, Delta State police spokesman, Charles Muka, said the authorities deployed 22,600 regular policemen in addition to bomb experts and more than 2,800 riot officers.

"The election has been very calm. No violence recorded anywhere. We had one or two places where there were attempts to snatch ballot boxes. We foiled them and arrests were quickly made," said Muka.

Sources: AFP, BBC News, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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