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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Difficult day at Nigerian polls
By Senan Murray
BBC News, Jos

Nigerian policeman looks at the damaged property at the Mini Okoro Obio police station in Port Harcourt
Three police stations were burnt down by armed militants

Controversy over omissions on the ballot, pockets of violence, ballot box theft and general infrastructural difficulties - these will be well remembered by many Nigerians voting in governorship and state legislative polls.

When voting finally began after a four-hour delay, it did not take long for the volatile Niger Delta to erupt in violence that led to the death of several policemen and the burning of vans conveying election materials.

BBC correspondents in Nigeria's oil capital Port Harcourt say three police stations were burnt down by armed militants.

Opposition candidate Akuro Parker told the BBC News website that there had been no voting in his town of Okrika "because some people seized the election materials and took them to a private residence".

"I had to run away because the violence there got out of hand," Mr Parker who is running on a United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP) ticket said.

Under-age 'voters'

It was a similar scenario in nearby Delta State where sporadic shootings scared away voters in Ukwani, Ndokwa-East and Ethiope local government areas.

Cracked window of a truck carrying election material, that was shot at by assailants seen on arrival in Lagos from Abuja

In the north-eastern town of Bauchi, ballot boxes were snatched by unknown persons believed to be acting on the prompting of politicians.

In north-west Katsina State, children between the ages of nine and 13 were seen on voting queues in Kofar Durbi and Wakilin Gabas in Katsina town.

However, some youths who mounted roadblocks around Mashi town in Katsina State were chased away by riot policemen who fired tear gas at them.

'We want change'

Unlike the 2003 general elections, voter apathy was absent this time around as many people patiently waited under the scorching sun for an opportunity to cast their vote.

Eunice Folorunso
The biggest issue in the elections is the future of my children, the future of Nigeria's children
Eunice Folorunso

"We want change and not even the sun or the delays can stop us," 71-year-old Danladi Musa told the BBC after casting his vote at a polling station in Olusegun Obasanjo Model Primary School, along Yakubu Gowon Way in central Nigerian city of Jos.

However, some of the those who stood in the long queues returned to their homes disappointed as their names were missing from the voter register.

"I'm very angry that I could not vote because the same electoral officer that entered my name into the voter register last December told me at the polling station this morning that my name was not in the register," Nuhu Gapsiso told the BBC News website from Yola in north-eastern Adamawa State.

Football fields

Stephen Agbor, 64, told the BBC from Makurdi, Benue State, that he was not allowed to vote because his name had been omitted even though he had registered three months ago.

Voter shows her slip before casting her vote in Port Harcourt
It's a shame to read and hear about Saturday's activities in our great country. The run up to the elections have been very tense
Akoko Naira Chief, US

"I would love to vote, but I have been told I can't because my name is not in the voter register. I am still hoping that somehow, I'll be allowed to cast my vote," Mr Agbor said.

Despite all the reports of irregularities and violence, Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) is already congratulating itself.

"We are very happy with what we have seen so far," Maurice Iwu, Inec chairman told a press conference in the capital Abuja. "We are very happy with the massive turnout for the election."

While the elections were going on, children in Jos turned the highway into football fields as they happily chased cheap balls on the tarmac.



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