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Nigeria Decides

Nigeria’s main parties in access row as campaign peaks

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Nigeria’s president and ruling party were on Saturday accused of dirty tricks to stifle opposition support, with one week to go before the election in Africa’s most populous nation.

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been due to hold a “mega-rally” in Abuja, but said it was shut out of the venue despite having made payments and obtained official approval.

It blamed President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) and called the move “provocative” and a sign of “desperation”.

APC spokesman Lanre Isa-Onilu told AFP the party did not own the venue, “so there is no way we could have denied them access to a place we don’t own and we don’t have control over”.

The access row came as Buhari and the APC prepared to address tens of thousands of supporters in the commercial hub of Lagos, in one of the last major rallies of the campaign before voting begins next Saturday.

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Buhari, 76, wants a second, four-year term while Atiku Abubakar, 72, is hoping to finally secure the presidency after four previous attempts.

A record of just over 84 million voters are registered this year — up 18 percent from 2015, when Buhari became the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat a sitting president.

Buhari secured just under 54 percent of the vote, beating the PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan by 2.6 million votes.

The elections are the sixth to be held since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 after decades of military government.

No details have been given about when official results will be announced, but in 2015 figures were released 48 hours after polls closed.

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