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Nigeria: 16 killed in election violence

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Officials count votes in front of voters during the presidential and parliamentary elections on February 23, 2019, at a polling station in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria. – Nigerians began voting for a new president on February 23, after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence. Some 120,000 polling stations began opening from 0700 GMT, although there were indications of a delay in the delivery of some materials and deployment of staff, AFP reporters said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Sixteen people were killed on Saturday in electoral violence across Nigeria during presidential and parliamentary elections, a network of civil society organisations said.

The Situation Room umbrella group of pro-democracy groups, which is monitoring the vote, said on Twitter that “16 deaths have been recorded across 8 states”.

Violence recorded included “disruption of voting, ballot boxes and papers set ablaze by political thugs in Lagos”, it added, without giving further details.

Electoral violence has marred previous votes in Africa’s most populous country and is relatively low compared to other years. Most voting took place without incident.

Analysts SBM Intelligence said 233 people were killed in 67 incidents of election-related violence from last October to Friday — an average of two people per day.

In the southern state of Rivers, unknown gunmen shot dead a former local government leader and his brother in the Andoni area, police said.

Both were members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party.

Police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni said “hoodlums” dressed in military uniforms also invaded some polling stations in the Okrika area of the state and snatched voting materials.

“Police have moved in to restore order in Okrika and INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) is making efforts to ensure voters are not disenfranchised in the area,” he said.

There were sporadic reports of violence and attacks on polling units across the country.

At one polling unit in the Yaba area of Lagos, AFP reporters witnessed bloody fights between youths, as unknown men distributed cash to waiting groups.

There were also reports of voter intimidation by thugs, according to local residents.

But in many other areas, voting went on without disruption.

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