- Title: IRAQ: Nigeria's city of Lagos returns to normal life after elections
- Date: 15th April 2007
- Summary: SIGN/ EXTERIOR OF THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
- Embargoed: 30th April 2007 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4BDN66L7X1E4IUL4792TZVAN4
- Story Text: Sense of normality returns to streets of Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, after Saturday's government elections were riddled by allegations of vote rigging and sporadic violence. The streets of Lagos returned to normal on Sunday (April 15) after the election, however tensions remains high in many places across Nigeria as results began to emerge from state elections that were marred by rigging and violence.
Local newspapers estimated about 50 people were killed in fighting linked to irregularities in Saturday's (April 15) poll, which should give Nigerians an idea of what to expect at the presidential election on April 21, where it appear President Olusegun Obasanjo to step down.
The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) held onto five out of seven states for which results were announced by the electoral body, the opposition All Nigeria People's Party held one and the south-eastern state of Abia swung to the opposition People's Progressive Alliance.
The PDP currently won 28 of 36 states in the last elections in 2003, and there are about eight states where PDP's dominance is vulnerable. Diplomats fear more violence in the swing states when results are announced.
As the results were trickling in, some residents of Lagos attended Sunday mass to pray for peace and stability during this volatile period.
"I asked God to help us in Nigeria because he's the only one who can help us. He's the one that sees the heart of everyone. So he's the one that knows the appropriate person to fit in appropriate situations," said Vera Ogbe, after attending a church service in Lagos.
"We ask to see our children go through a period that's free from tenseness. I live through Nigeria during a very good time and I feel sorry for the young people so we pray for them so that their country will be a blessed country and they grow together without any problems at all," added John Abili, who also attended the church service in Lagos.
In the northern state of Bauchi, opposition supporters barricaded the main road to offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and made fires on the streets.
Opposition supporters also barricaded INEC offices in the south-western state of Ondo.
The opposition Action Congress said there were "massive irregularities and fraud" in the vote across Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer.
Problems included late and non-arrival of ballots, fake results sheets, armed thugs snatching ballot boxes, kidnapping of election officers, voter intimidation, mistakes in the voter register, faulty ballots and under-age voters, witnesses said.
INEC said it was generally satisfied with Saturday's vote, but it cancelled the governor election in south-eastern Imo state due to irregularities and said it would be re-held on April 28.
Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 after three decades of almost continuous army rule, and these polls should bring the first handover from one elected president to another since independence in 1960.
With unrivalled funds and powers of incumbency, the PDP should normally have coasted to victory, analysts say.
But endemic corruption, failure to deliver basic services and deteriorating security have boosted the chances of the opposition in many states.
Dozens of people had been killed in political violence in the months leading up to the poll. Controversial indictments for fraud have disqualified dozens of mostly opposition candidates.
Poor preparation of the voter register and lack of accreditation for observers had also raised doubts about the credibility of the exercise before it started.
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