First results of Nigeria’s presidential election could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said on Sunday, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.
“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC later said that collation of results from states across the country would begin in Abuja from 12:00 pm (1100 GMT).
Technical problems with new devices to “read” biometric voter identity cards plus the delayed arrival of election material and officials forced INEC to extend voting into a second day on Sunday.
Jega said that 348 polling stations across the country were affected, including 90 in the financial hub of Lagos in the southwest, and two in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan is hoping for a second term of office but is facing a strong challenge from the main opposition candidate, former military general Mohammadu Buhari.
Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) have traded accusations since Saturday evening about irregularities in voting.
Jega said that INEC had received reports of alleged rigging in some places, including the use of under-age voters, and also a request from the APC to re-run the vote in the southern state of Rivers.
He told a news conference that the reports would be investigated but said that INEC was confident that its objectives of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election were “on course”.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.
On the handheld voter identity card readers that left voters, including Jonathan, unable to accredit, Jega played down the scale of the problem.
“We received reports that some card readers were not reading. 0.25 percent of the total card readers were reported to have failed,” he said.
“We have deployed 150,000 card readers and 0.25 percent statistically is insignificant.
“If out of 150,000 card readers that we have deployed and 374 did not work, obviously you should commend this achievement.”