Mr Jonathan is facing a strong election from his rival Muhammadu Buhari. (Photo: Reuters)
Mr Jonathan is facing a strong election from his rival Muhammadu Buhari. (Photo: Reuters)

Abuja, Nigeria, 9 Jumadil Akhir 1436/29 Maret 2015 (MINA) -Violence and technical glitches have affected polling as Nigerians turned out en masse to vote in what is expected to be one of the tightest presidential races in their history between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Violence affected areas in the country’s restive northeast both prior to, and during, polling on Saturday, with the Associated Press news agency reporting that at least 39 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram fighters, Al Jazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Witnesses and officials told AP that 14 people, including Gombe state legislator Umaru Ali, died on Saturday in attacks on the towns of Biri and Dukku, Gombe state.

The news agency also cited residents of the town of Miringa in Borne state as saying that members of the armed group torched people’s homes before polls opened and then shot them as they tried to escape. Twenty-five people were reportedly killed. There were conflicting reports over the timing of the attack with AP saying it occurred early on Saturday, and Reuters news agency saying it occurred on Friday.

Analysts are calling the poll a pivotal historical event for the young democracy. Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled Africa’s most populous nation virtually unopposed for 16 years.

But it is possible he could lose to Buhari, who has contested three previous elections but never come close to victory before. (T/P001/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)