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Cablegate: Nigerian Gubernatorial Elections - Sitrep 1 -

VZCZCXRO5001
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0707 1041046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141046Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9178
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0241
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0237
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 6593
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ABUJA 000707

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM NI ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS - SITREP 1 -
CORRECTED COPY

1. SUMMARY: Polling in Nigeria got off to a slow start for
the April 14 round of state elections. Most observers
reported that polling began by about 9:30 vice the 8:00
beginning time. Problems observed thus far include voters
registers missing or in two different versions, untrained
poll workers, party agents without identification and
isolated security incidents. For now, the situation is calm,
but Mission observers say; that as delays mount, many voters
are losing patience. END SUMMARY.

2. Polling in Nigeria got off to a slow start for the April
14 round of state elections, including the election of
Governors for all 36 states. In Edo State, Embassy observers
report that polling began on time in Benin City. However,
elsewhere, polling did not begin until 9:00 or later. By
9:30, Embassy observers report that polling had begun in some
places in Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Edo and
Lagos states. As of 11:00 reports from various sources
indicate that polling is yet to begin in Rivers, Enugu and
Abia states.

3. Early in the day, Embassy observers reported a light
turnout and a complete absence of materials and officials.
As the INEC poll workers arrived, it took them 30 minutes or
more to organize the sites for operation. At some locations,
the poll workers refused to begin the process until security
personnel arrived. Observers report a wide variety of
polling methods in use and they also report that poll workers
do not appear to be adequately trained. In one location, a
poll worker reported his site had received 99 ballots for the
600 plus registered voters.

4. International observers report that party agents in Lagos
have no credentials and this is causing some confusion in
several locations. Press reports, confirmed by Police
contacts, indicate that "PDP thugs" are interfering with the
vote at some locations in Benin City and that an INEC vehicle
was attacked by "armed robbers" in the Shagamu area, a suburb
of Lagos in Ogun state.

5. Heavy police and military presence is being reported in
Plateau, Kano, Kaduna and Anambra states. At least two
police stations were torched in Port Harcourt, Rivers state,
early on the morning of the 14th. Reports from an NGO,
confirmed by the police, indicate that about 20 policemen
were killed and others may have been taken hostage early in
the morning of April 14. An INEC vehicle was reportedly set
on fire in the Delta stat capital of Asaba by angry voters
who, at 10:30, were frustrated with the wait.

6. Embassy observers report that as of 10:30, no elections
materials have been released in Enugu state. Politicians and
INEC officials are in a dispute over the authenticity of the
materials to be distributed from the Central Bank of Nigeria
(CBN) office, with politicians demanding INEC officials
certify the validity of the materials and INEC officials
refusing to do so. Reports from an NGO in Port Harcourt
suggest that voters materials have been given to local
government chairmen, but none have been made available
publicly and voting is yet to begin as of 10:30. Similar
reports from local monitoring groups in Abia indicate a
similar problem there.

7. COMMENT: For now the situation remains calm and INEC and
patient voters are trying to work out the problems in the
process. While the logistical problems appear to be worse
than in 2003, in general the polling has started in typical
Nigerian fashion. As the day progresses, it seems likely
that tensions will rise and the result of that is, as of yet,
unpredictable.
CAMPBELL

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