Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Election riots continue in Nigeria

Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan casts his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria (AP)
Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan casts his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria (AP)
Attahiru Jega declares Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan the winner of last Saturday's election (AP)
Nigerian security officers stand guard at the entrance of the Independent National Electoral Commission office (AP)

Riots have broken out again in Nigeria's Muslim north, 24 hours after protesters set fire to churches and homes of ruling party supporters when national election results showed that the Christian candidate had won.

Authorities and aid groups have hesitated to release tolls following the riots for fear of inciting reprisal attacks, but the Nigerian Red Cross said hundreds had been wounded in the post-election violence and that rioting continued in the town of Kaduna.

Soldiers had set up a military checkpoint about 10 miles south of the city, where a bomb blast hours after the Saturday vote had wounded eight.

In a televised address to the nation late on Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan said that "nobody's political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian".

Supporters of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari set fire to homes of ruling party members in several areas across the north. Police said an angry mob also engineered a prison break.

In the northern town of Kano, Rev Lado Abdu said three churches had been set ablaze by angry demonstrators. An armed mob at a bus station also threatened another evangelical pastor before a Muslim man nearby spirited him to safety.

Thousands have been killed in religious violence in the past decade in Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous nation. But the roots of the sectarian conflict are often embedded in struggles for political and economic dominance.

While Christians and Muslims have lived together there for centuries, the election result showing the Christian president's more than 10 million-vote lead over Muslim Mr Buhari spread accusations of rigging in a nation long accustomed to ballot box stuffing.

Mr Jonathan took office last year only after the country's elected Muslim president died from a lengthy illness before his term ended, and many in the north still believe the ruling party should have put up a Muslim candidate instead in this year's election.

Election chairman Attahiru Jega announced results on Monday night that showed Mr Jonathan won 22.4 million votes, compared to the 12.2 million for Mr Buhari.

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