28 March: Election Day
Nigeria is going to polls on Saturday for the presidential elections after its original schedule on 14 February was postponed to tackle the Boko Haram menace.
But it is not just the terror group that has led to tensions ahead of the elections.
The fault-lines between the Muslim-dominated North and the Christian-dominated South are feared to flare up when incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan goes head-to-head against Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator of Nigeria who is now the presidential face of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
The tensions evoke memories of the 2011 riots between the two communities, which left 800 dead after Buhari lost the election.
- Bloody violence in Nigeria continues as 'scores' of members of the All Progressives Congress have reportedly been shot dead in Rivers state. APC officials have blamed Jonathan Goodluck's Peoples Democratic Party for the attacks.
"Armed militias working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have intensified their killing of APC members. Scores have already been killed and several others marked for elimination," Rivers APC chairman, Davies Ibiamu Ikanya said, according to Daily Post.
- Boko Haram have managed to wreak havoc in the elections, killing more than 40 people in the northeast on Saturday.
- The Nigeria elections have extended to the second day in some parts owing to technical glitches in card readers, which had even delayed President Jonathan's voting on Saturday.
- Boko Haram launched two attacks on the polling day in Nigeria, firing at voters as they walked to polling stations.
Six people were killed in the attacks in Yobe state and Gombe state.
- Nigeria's election commission has said that its website has been hacked, hours after polling began across the country.
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) March 28, 2015
- A prominent member of Jonathan Goodluck's Peoples Democratic Party was shot dead in Osun state early on Saturday, adding to the spectre of violence in the tight election.
Yomi Ademola is said to have defected from Buhari's All Progressives Congress to PDP.
- The Christian Association of Nigeria has called on Christians and Muslims in the country to 'protect each other', as the nation goes to vote for its next president.
- A bomb explosion has been reported from a polling unit in Nigeria's Enugu state on Saturday, according to Daily Post. Nobody was injured.
- Opinions polls are predicting a win for Muhammadu Buhari, with Nigeria's Daily Post online poll showing that more than 65% of the respondents want him to win, and only 28% favoured incumbent President Jonathan Goodluck.
- Nigerians are taking to Twitter with updates about polling. The national election commission has itself called on voters to update with the hashtag #NigeriaDecides
— SuperSanusi (@supersanusi) March 28, 2015
Thank you for all your reports, we are escalating them. Please include #NigeriaDecides and your location in your tweets.
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) March 28, 2015
Will Peace Deal Ensure Smooth Elections?
The two presidential candidates have signed a peace agreement to ensure there is no violence during elections this year.
The National Peace Committee had warned earlier this week that the vitriolic campaigning by both sides were already sparking tensions.
The peace deal was brokered by former military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar, who brought the two candidates together on Thursday, who also reportedly hugged and shook hands.
But even as the two rivals have signed a peace deal, rumours and rigging allegations could vitiate the atmosphere.
Rigging Rumours Add More Drama
Despite the peace deal, rumours of electoral rigging could unsettle the election process.
The APC has accused Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party of attempting to rig the elections 'at all costs'.
The APC has alleged that the PDP has planned to disperse voters with the help of bandits, according to Nigeria's Premium Times.
However, it is not just the parties that are accusing each other.
This week, several national newspapers carried front-page advertisements sponsored by unknown groups accusing the chairman of the election commission of attempting to rig the elections by forming a results collations committee.
The ads prompted the election commission to put up a notice on its official website dismissing the claims.
Rumours that Goodluck will Give Power to Military
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo stoked tensions when he publicly discussed a rumour about President Goodluck Jonathan's plans to hand power to the army – which ruled the nation till 1999 – if he loses the election, according to Mail and Guardian.
"I hope we will soon go away from the rumour of handing over to the military, because the military is not meant to run the affairs of a nation in terms of running government," he said.