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Nigeria election 2019: Muhammadu Buhari maintains early lead

Image captionUche Secondus, chair of the opposition PDP, said the government had rigged the results

President Muhammadu Buhari has taken an early lead as votes are being counted in Nigeria’s general election, amid allegations of manipulation.

Mr Buhari has won seven of Nigeria’s 36 states, while his rival Atiku Abubakar took two states and the capital Abuja.

As results came in, Mr Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) alleged that there had been irregularities in the vote.

Party chair Uche Secondus called the count “incorrect and unacceptable”.

He said there had been an “attempt by the government and other agencies to manipulate the result”, but did not give any evidence.

The EU, US and African Union have all expressed concern about delays and logistical problems with voting on Saturday, but no independent observers have suggested fraud.

Mr Buhari, a member of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party, is seeking re-election but faces a strong challenge from Mr Abubakar.

Each party says the other is working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) to influence the vote, which was initially scheduled for 16 February but delayed at the last minute.

Mr Buhari has promised to build on his accomplishments in office so far, while Mr Abubakar, a business tycoon, has accused the president of wasting his term.

Whoever wins in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy faces a range of problems including power shortages, corruption, security threats, and an economic slowdown.

What are the allegations?

Final results are not expected until later in the week. But Mr Secondus has criticised the initial tallies, saying the government was using “impeachments, manipulation, incarceration” to influence the outcome.

Image captionNigerians are anxious to find out the winner of the election

In turn, the federal government accused the PDP of trying to “scuttle the polls” and prompt a constitutional crisis.

The initial vote was postponed early on Saturday 16 February, five hours before polls were due to open. Voters were also choosing members of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Most of the country was calm but there were reports of attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group in the north, and voter intimidation and attempts to steal ballot boxes, especially in the southern states of Rivers, Lagos, and Anambra.

A coalition of civil society groups reported that a total of 16 people were killed around the country – fewer than in previous elections.

Image captionBallot boxes were destroyed in the Isolo district of Lagos

Two people were arrested in Lagos after a group of armed young men attacked voters, eyewitness Ralph Onodike told the BBC.

“What they were saying was that if you were not [voting for the ruling party] APC, you’ll be attacked,” he said.

How does the election work?

The candidate with the most votes is declared the winner in the first round, provided that person gains at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s states. There are 73 registered candidates, but Mr Buhari and Mr Abubakar have dominated the presidential election.

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