Nigeria awaits tense poll results, UN chief calls for calm

Electoral officials start the counting operations at a polling station in Lagos, on march 29, 2015. AFP Photo

Nigerians on March 30 awaited the first results of a closely fought general election pitting President Goodluck Jonathan against ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for calm after deadly riots followed 2011 polls.
      
The United Nations Secretary General congratulated Nigeria for holding a "largely peaceful and orderly" ballot, as the head of the country's electoral commission said Sunday that the first results could be announced the following day.
      
But Ban called on citizens to "maintain a peaceful atmosphere and to exercise patience" and condemned attacks carried out by Boko Haram and other militants attempting to disrupt the presidential and parliamentary polls.
      
Military fighter jets and ground troops pounded Boko Haram fighters in the northeastern state of Bauchi on Sunday after a series of attacks on polling stations at the weekend.
      
The presidential election in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer is the closest in the country's history, with the first credible challenge from an opposition party.
      
Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 but is being pushed to the wire by main opposition candidate Buhari.
      
The prospect of a democratic transfer of power -- plus economic woes caused by the slump in global oil prices, concerns about corruption and fears about insecurity -- served to energise the vote.
                      
Voting was pushed into an unscheduled second day Sunday after failures in controversial new technology but election chief Attahiru Jega said his commission was confident its objective of holding a "free, fair, credible and peaceful"...

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