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Nigeria election 2023 updates: Vote counting under way

Nigeria holds presidential and parliamentary elections

Nigeria’s elections for the presidency and both houses of the federal parliament were under way on Saturday across the country’s 36 states. This vote is the sixth successive civilian-to-civilian transition of power since a return to democracy in 1999. Only four of the 18 candidates are considered frontrunners: Bola Tinubu of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the leading opposition People’s Democratic Party, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).

Nigerian voters still lined up after election delays

Frustrated Nigerians have been casting their ballots into the evening, hours past the official deadline for joining the voting line, after late starts and sporadic violence caused delays at polling stations. Election officials blamed the delays on logistical issues, though other observers pointed to the upheaval created by a redesigned currency that has left many unable to obtain bank notes. The cash shortage affected transport not only for voters but also election workers and police officers providing security. Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria’s election commission, said voting would continue late into the evening in places that had recorded violence but now have an adequate security presence. “We are determined that no Nigerian should and would be disenfranchised,” he said.

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‘I’m ready to sleep here’: Student still waiting to vote

Voting was meant to end at 13:30 GMT, but by nightfall, angry voters are still waiting to cast ballots after INEC started late or problems with identification technology disrupted them in parts of Lagos, southern Port Harcourt and the northwest state of Kano. INEC said people still in lines after could cast their ballots. In southeast Anambra state, officials counted votes at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, where crowds of voters danced. But desperation was clear in another nearby centre. “It is not normal. I will wait all night, I came to vote and I will,” said student Blessing Mbanefo, 21, waiting to vote. “I’m ready to sleep here.”

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Lagos, has said that in areas where violence has been recorded, “officials will have to determine whether those cases of violence are enough to cancel those votes or even re-organise an election probably tomorrow or at a later date”.

INEC has not said when official results will be announced though it is expected during the next few days as tallies are uploaded on an online portal.

Scattered violence reported during voting time

In northeast Borno state, the epicentre of a rebellion, suspected fighters from the Boko Haram group fired mortar shells in the rural Gwoza area, killing one child, wounding four others and disrupting voting, army sources have said. In Abuja, a team from the anti-corruption Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was attacked by thugs just after arresting a man on suspicion of paying for a group of people’s votes using a banking app, the EFCC said. In Lagos, a Reuters TV crew saw police arrest four men on suspicion of intimidating voters, while an election observer from a local civil society group said he had seen thugs armed with knives, chains and bottles smashing ballot boxes. In most areas, however, the day appeared to have unfolded peacefully despite frustration about the delays.

INEC officials acknowledge delays, technical problems

Officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have cited technical problems with the new biometric antifraud voter accreditation system, the late arrival of vehicles to transport them and the absence of voter registers as causes of delays in voting. In a televised news briefing, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said six biometric machines had been stolen in northern Katsina State and two in southern Delta State.

Voters complain of hitches in uploading results to database

Across the country, voters are complaining of hitches in uploading polling results to INEC’s database. With the introduction of the BVAS (Bimodal Voter Accreditation System), counted results are expected to be uploaded at the polling centre and to be tallied at a collation centre, but network issues and equipment failures are militating against the success of the new process. INEC says its new system that identifies voters using biometric data would help avert fraud.

Source: Mersiha Gadzo, Jazeera

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