PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (AP) — Nine people were killed Saturday as Nigerians voted for state governors and assemblies in which the opposition hopes to make gains following its victory unseating President Goodluck Jonathan two weeks ago.
The killings occurred in oil-rich Rivers state, which is hotly contested.
Opposition gubernatorial candidate Dakuku Peterside said eight of his supporters died and police said an officer was killed.
"A lot of gunshots in the air as I speak to you, but the military is trying their best to bring the situation under control," Livingstone Membere, president of the Kalabari Youth Federation told The Associated Press from Asari Toru area.
He said a polling station was burned down along with the house of the state commissioner for women's affairs.
The competition is fierce because Nigerian governors are among the country's most powerful politicians and often control budgets larger than those of many African countries.
An electoral official said eight youth corps polling agents were kidnapped Saturday morning and that police had only managed to rescue four by afternoon. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to reporters.
In Lagos, the financial heart of Africa's most populous and richest nation, Igbo people have filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission after the king of the Yoruba tribe allegedly threatened to kill them if they did not vote for his opposition gubernatorial candidate.
The opposition coalition All Progressives Congress holds 14 states to 21 for Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party, which has suffered many defections since he lost the presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator.
Voters said they were sickened by corruption that swallows billions of dollars and Jonathan's apparent inability to curb Boko Haram's nearly 6-year-old Islamic uprising in the northeast that killed a reported 10,000 people last year alone.
Despite a wealth of oil, precious stones and minerals and vast agricultural lands, nearly two-thirds of Nigerians struggle to survive on less than two dollars a day, according to U.N. statistics.
Faul reported from Lagos.