Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Nigeria vote in chaos after delay

Electoral officials check ballot material at the distribution centre in Ibadan, just before the election was postponed (AP)

Nigeria has postponed its National Assembly elections as ballots and tally sheets remain missing from polling places throughout the country, a worrying sign as the oil-rich nation faces a month of crucial polls.

Election chief Attahiru Jega told voters in a nationwide radio address that the country faced "an emergency" and extraordinary measures needed to be taken to ensure a free and fair election.

He said election officials would come to the country's roughly 120,000 polling stations on Monday to carry out the vote for the country's federal legislature.

Jega did not address whether the delay would affect the country's planned presidential and local elections.

"There was nothing we could do to prevent this from happening," Jega said.

The election was to decide who should occupy seats in the country's National Assembly, positions worth more than £620,000 in salaries and perks. It also was an opportunity for Nigeria's electoral commission to prove it could overcome the nation's history of flawed polls.

In Ibadan, a city about 90 miles inland from Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, police stopped all vehicles. Locals gathered around polling stations waiting to vote, some already with ink on their fingers ready to cast their ballots.

Local election officials at one polling place only learned of the delay after being informed by foreign journalists.

"We feel very bad," said Mufutau Oreagba, 54. "We people are determined to do our civic right."

However, questions remain over how that will be done in an election already marred by problems during its registration drive. Oreagba held up his voter identification card as he spoke, saying his name was not on the list at his polling place. Some said the list was missing several hundred people.

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