Delays and chaos mar key elections in Nigeria

Nigerian authorities have promised an investigation into widespread chaos that marred the credibility of Saturday's local elections. The elections were considered key to the military government's plan to return the nation to civilian rule by 1992. Reports on national television from most of Nigeria's 21 states said there was a large turnout for the first elections since 1983, but many people were turned away because of a shortage of voting materials and vandalism. There were also reports that violence in the capital city of Lagos was sparked by rumors that candidates were trying to rig the results by stealing ballot boxes.

The military government had called these elections the first stage of a five-year transitional period leading to a return to civilian rule by the early 1990s. That transition includes specific steps to eradicate civil and public corruption which has become widespread in Nigeria. Political parties were banned from taking part in this election, and most former and current officials are banned from running for office until after the presidential elections scheduled for 1992.

The Lagos state electoral commissioner, Rev. Kayode Cadmus, said that before any results were announced, there would be an inquiry into complaints of a nationwide shortage of ballot boxes and papers.

Authorities said voting would have to be repeated in some districts. An estimated 72 million people - Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation - were registered to vote for councilmen in 301 local government districts.

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