Nigerian Opposition Points to Dirty Tricks on Eve of Poll
As twenty-five presidential hopefuls prepare for the big day, evidence is mounting of yet more irregularities in Nigeria's drawn-out poll.
Nigeria's opposition accused the government of detaining its activists and stuffing ballot boxes in the north on Friday, a day before a presidential election in Africa's most populous country.
The Action Congress (AC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) said the tactics were a repeat of widespread abuses that marred a state election last weekend.
"Most of our prominent members, even the candidates, are in police detention," said senior ANPP official Maman Abubakar DanMusa in the northern state of Katsina.
"We have more than 600 people in prison cells in Katsina right now. One has even died in detention. The situation is terrible," he said.
Katsina state spokesperson Nasiru Abdul said police arrested many "miscreants" after violence in the aftermath of the state poll, when the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) was declared to have won a landslide.
"The police, in the course of their investigations, have made many arrests regardless of political leanings. As a government we had nothing to do with these arrests," he said.
Abdul said last week's polls were free and fair.
The new accusations followed an opposition charge, denied by authorities, that police had seized a truck carrying doctored ballots in another northern state, Kaduna.
Katsina, a poor Muslim state on Nigeria's sun-baked northern frontier with Niger, is home to both PDP candidate Umaru Yar'Adua and his main rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP.
Yar'Adua, until a few months ago a little-known state governor, is strong favourite to replace President Olusegun Obasanjo after Saturday's vote.
AC members accused the PDP of repeating abuses seen in the state polls.
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