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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Nigeria's ruling party wins poll
Voters in Lagos cast their ballot in local government elections
Despite some violence, voting was more peaceful than predicted
Nigeria's ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) has won a sweeping victory in local elections during which almost 50 people died.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's party now controls almost all levels of government across the country.

The local elections were marred with claims of massive rigging and recorded a very low turn out.

The opposition won elections in the predominantly Muslim states in the north-west of the country.

The PDP won 25 of the 30 states where the elections were held but lost in the key states of Kano, Zamfara and Sokoto.

Controversial elections

About 20 people died in central Plateau State on Friday at the eve of the poll.

Clashes broke out between the Tarok and Hausa-Fulani people in Wase town, near Jos, reportedly in an attempt to disrupt the voting.

Seven more people had been shot or slashed to death in the oil-rich Rivers state, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, an observer with the non-governmental organisation Transition Monitoring Group, told Reuters news agency.

Nigerian media reports say more people were killed in four other states during the controversial local government elections.

The BBC's Sola Odunfa in Lagos says many Nigerians declined to participate saying they felt their votes would not count as the election was "pre-determined".

Our correspondent says both the ruling PDP and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) - the main opposition grouping - have been blamed for the violence.

Predicted violence

The BBC's Yusuf Sarki Mohammed in Kaduna says elections were not held in three local authorities due to lack of ballot papers and many voters were disenfranchised.

"I am very angry because we did not vote, this was a litmus paper test for the independent state electoral bodies and they have failed," Omar Sani, a campaign director for one of the candidates in Kaduna told the BBC.

These are the first local elections to be organised by a civilian government since the 1960s. They had been delayed twice in the past two years.

About 250,000 policemen were deployed throughout Nigeria to prevent fighting.

In the northern city of Kano on Saturday police fired warning shots when a mob outside a polling station tried to attack an opposition dignitary.

Two election candidates died in the run-up to the poll.

However, correspondents say there was little of the predicted violence which had prompted the army to be on standby.

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