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Nigeria Ballot Counting Continues


FILE: Electoral officials check election documents, at the Local Independent National Electoral Commission office in Yola, Nigeria Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. People are still voting across Nigeria, one day after the polls opened to vote for presidential and parliamentary elections.

UPDATED WITH AFP BACKING REUTERS ON OBI LAGOS WIN: Nigeria's electoral commission began announcing state-by-state results in the national elections on Sunday, though it is not expected to name a victor in the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari for several days.

With no clear winner still at-hand, Nigeria election officials continue counting ballots Monday following Saturday's vote-casting.

Both Reuters and Agence France-Presse report that Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi, whose campaign attracted young people and urban voters fed up with corrupt politics, won most votes in the commercial hub of Lagos state, where Africa's biggest city is located.

Obi of the Labor Party got 582,454 votes, just ahead of 572,606 for former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu for the governing All Progressives Congress party, electoral commission data showed on Monday. Lagos was previously Tinubu's main stronghold.

Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) got 75,750 votes.

On Sunday, Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said APC's Tinubu won small, southwestern Ekiti state with PDP's Abubakar coming in second.

The early result in one state for APC's Tinubu was very preliminary in a country almost equally divided between a mostly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south and with three main ethnic groups in different regions.

Tinubu and Abubakar are old guard figures who have fought off past corruption accusations, but the emergence of Obi - a Christian ethnic Igbo from the southeast - threw the race open.

The race has some analysts forecasting a runoff between the two frontrunners if no candidate meets election requirements - a first in Nigeria's history. It would have to be organized within 21 days.

Voting is usually determined by large key states such as Lagos and northwestern Kano and Kaduna.

To win the presidency, a candidate must get the most votes, but also win at least 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states to reflect broad representation.

Nigeria's police force on Monday urged presidential candidates to "caution their party stalwarts and supporters to avoid making inciting comments."

Nearly 90 million were eligible to vote on Saturday for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, with many hoping for a new leader to tackle insecurity, economic malaise and widening poverty.

Voting on Saturday was mostly peaceful, but thugs ransacked some polling stations and many others opened very late in Lagos and other cities. Many voters stayed overnight to watch over the initial count at polling stations.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.