By Staff Writer
LAGOS-—Rioting erupted across Nigeria’s largely Muslim north on Monday, with the Red Cross saying many people were killed as youths torched churches and homes in anger at President Goodluck Jonathan’s election victory.
Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent and first president from the southern oil-producing Niger Delta region has been declared winner of presidential elections. He won 57 per cent of the vote, easily beating his northern rival, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in the first round.
Final results declared Monday evening, which the opposition rejected, gave Jonathan 22.5 million votes, while Buhari scored 12.2 million votes for 31 per cent.
Following his win, post election violence has since erupted with running battles in the Muslim northern city of Kano. Opposition supporters in Nigeria’s Muslim north set fire to homes bearing ruling party banners and heavy gunfire rang out in several towns as officials released presidential election results on Monday showing the Christian incumbent Goodluck Jonathan has an insurmountable lead.
Observers have called the poll the fairest in decades in Africa’s most populous nation, but Buhari’s supporters accuse the ruling party of election rigging and his Congress for Progressive Change party rejected results announced so far. Those results show how politically polarised the country is, with Buhari sweeping the largely Muslim north and Jonathan winning the largely Christian south.
The Nigerian Red Cross said churches, mosques and homes had been burned in rioting across the north. “A lot of people have been killed but early reports are still coming in,” Red Cross official Umar Mairiga told Reuters.
Authorities in the northern state of Kaduna imposed a 24-hour curfew after protesters set fire to the residence of the vice-president, Namadi Sambo, in the town of Zaria and forced their way into the central prison, releasing inmates.
A spokesman for the national emergency management agency, Yushau Shuaib, confirmed that deaths occurred but declined to provide figures out of fears of reprisals.
Jonathan, from a family of canoe makers and who rose to the presidency in May 2010 after the death of his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, condemned the violence.
“I enjoin our political and religious leaders in their usual sense of patriotism to call on their followers to eschew all acts of bitterness and violence,” he said.
“As I have always stated, nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
Buhari’s party also condemned the violence, but he had not spoken publicly after the results were announced.
To win in the first round, a candidate needs at least 25 per cent of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states. According to regional results, Mr Jonathan has passed that threshold in at least 24 states.He has polled more than 22 million votes, compared with 12 million or so for former military leader General Buhari.
Published in Exclusive Partnership with Newsfromafrica.org