LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerians are voting for state governors and assemblies in elections Saturday in which the opposition hopes to make gains following its victory that unseated President Goodluck Jonathan two weeks ago.
Tensions are high in the country’s south where close contests are expected in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial heart and wealthiest state, and oil-rich Rivers State.
Witnesses say agitators set a polling station ablaze in Rivers, protesters firebombed a police car and opposition supporters marched peacefully in another area where they charge Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party is attempting to rig the vote. The witnesses insisted on anonymity for their safety.
Igbo people in Lagos have been agitated since the traditional Yoruba leader threatened to kill them if they do not vote for his opposition gubernatorial candidate.
The opposition holds 14 states and Jonathan’s party 21.
The gubernatorial elections come shortly after Nigeria’s presidential election which was won in by opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, 72, a former military dictator.
The victory of Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress, was the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition party has democratically taken control of the country from the ruling party — a sign of the West African nation’s maturing young democracy. Jonathan’s party has governed since Nigeria’s military dictatorship ended in 1999.
The elections are taking place amid widespread anger over an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram Islamic extremists have been waging an insurgency for nearly six years. The militants are blamed for the deaths of 10,000 people last year.
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