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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 11:56 GMT
Nigerians register to vote
Nigerians vote in 1999
The vote will be the first under civilian rule for 20 years

Voter registration is taking place across Nigeria ahead of elections in April.

Across the country, registration centres have opened for business once again.

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO
President Olusegun Obasanjo
1937: Born in south-west; a Christian and a Yoruba
1976-79: Military ruler
1995-98: Jailed by military regime
1999: Elected president
Over the next three days, Nigerians who were unable to get their voter┐s cards the first time around, now have a second chance.

There are an estimated 60 million people eligible to vote in the country, and the process of identifying them has been dogged by controversy.

Last September, the electoral commission distributed as many as 70 million registration cards to electoral centres, more than enough for every one of the country┐s eligible voters.

But, unaccountably, large numbers of these disappeared and the process ended in confusion and disarray.

Now, with just three months to go before the polls, the electoral commission will need to collate all the data on their computerised system, from this latest registration process and last, into a credible voters' roll.

Scams

This is a mammoth task.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Muhammadu Buhari
Military ruler of Nigeria from 1984 to 1985
Deposed in a coup
Poor human rights record
Seen as honest
Muslim from northern Nigeria
Running mate is Chuba Okadigbo, from south-east
Already the commission says it has identified two million illegal applications, and the police in Lagos last week uncovered a scam to print as many as five million fake voters' cards.

And this in not the only controversy hanging over these elections. President Olusegun Obasanjo, standing for a second term of office, is having to defend himself and his party against accusations of malpractice.

The man Mr Obasanjo beat in the party primaries, Alex Ekwueme, has lodged an appeal in the High Court to have the party selection process re-run, without Mr Obasanjo as a candidate.

Whilst this is unlikely to succeed, it is undoubtedly a foretaste of the legal battles and bitter arguments that lie ahead, not just in the presidential race, but at all levels in these elections.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Bilkisu Labaran Ohyoma reporting for Focus on Africa
"The Obasanjo campaign group has reacted strongly"

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09 Jan 03 | Africa
20 Dec 02 | Africa
17 Sep 02 | Africa
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