Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer – stepped up security in its capital Abuja on Monday, deploying soldiers and putting up barricades before Saturday’s election. DW’s correspondent in Abuja, Ben Shemang, said soldiers, police and even plainclothes security operatives were to be seen at the barricades. “Sometimes they do stop-and-search,” he said. A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the government “needs to give citizens a sense of protection.” But political analyst Anselm Okolo told the German news agency dpa there was no reason for the deployment of soldiers “other than intimidation of opponents of President Jonathan.”
Officials have expressed concern over security on polling day, March 28, and the inability of the military to keep the polls safe was one reason cited for postponing the vote, which was originally scheduled for February 14.
Obama called on Nigerians ‘to reject the voices of those who call for violence’
The Nigerian military may have been claiming gains over the Boko Haram jihadists, but the extremists remain a challenge to the poll and the country. 13,000 people have died in the insurgency since 2009.
Nnamdi Obasi from the International Crisis Group told the news agency AFP Boko Haram may not be able to seize new territory, but they could certainly still send suicide bombers to public places, including polling centers.