[JURIST] Nigeria held its presidential and gubernatorial elections Saturday in spite of violent attacks against voters by Boko Haram [JURIST news archive]. The elections, originally scheduled for February 14, were postponed [Washington Times report] as Nigeria attempted to eradicate Boko Haram after reports that the group had acquired military-grade weaponry, including armored personnel carriers. A series of military victories against Boko Haram [WSJ report] in which more than 30 towns were liberated bolstered government confidence enough to carry out the elections Saturday. However, since the polls opened, at least 20 voters have been killed [BBC report] in attacks by unknown gunmen. The elections have been extended in to Sunday in part because of the attacks.
Although 14 presidential candidates are included on the ballot [CNN report], the primary contenders in the election are current president Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile] on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party [party website] and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari [BBC profile] on behalf of the All Progressives Congress [party website]. To prevail in the election, a presidential candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the national vote, and at least a quarter of the vote in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states. Parliamentary elections were also held Saturday [BBC report], with 739 candidates competing for positions in the Senate and 1,780 competing for positions in the House of Representatives [official websites]. A second vote will be held on April 11 to vote for new governors and representatives for state assemblies.