Former Nigerian President, General Muhammadu Buhari votes in national elections. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari cast his vote in Katsina on Saturday (March 28) in national elections that have already been marred by violence. Gunmen killed at least 15 people including an opposition politician near polling stations in northeast Nigeria, casting an ominous shadow over the closest electoral contest since the end of military rule in 1999. The poll is seen as the first election in which an opposition candidate has a serious chance of unseating the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, but widespread fears it could trigger violence are already becoming reality. The tense race pits Jonathan against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari with an electorate divided along a complex mix of ethnic, regional and in some cases religious lines. Polls were meant to open for accreditation at 120,000 ballot stations at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT), with actual voting starting at 1.30 p.m. and continuing until the last person has voted. With 56.7 million eligible voters, it could drag well into Sunday. Islamist Boko Haram insurgents launched several attacks on voters in the northeast, killing three voters in Yobe state and three more in Gombe state, police said. At least eight people, including the opposition house of assembly candidate for Dukku in Gombe, were also killed by unidentified gunmen, a spokesman for Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) said. Boko Haram militants, who are trying to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in religiously-mixed Nigeria, reject democracy. Leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to kill Nigerians who go to vote. Separately, gunmen shot dead a soldier in an ambush in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt, a hotbed of Jonathan support but a city with a long history of political thuggery. A credible and relatively calm poll would be a new chapter in the history of Africa's most populous nation, biggest economy and top oil producer, whose five decades of independence have been tarnished by military coups and secessionist movements. The vote is seen as a referendum on the record of Jonathan, a former zoology professor whose time in office has been blighted by massive corruption scandals and the Boko Haram insurgency in which thousands have died.