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Nigeria shuts borders for Saturday poll

ABUJA, Apr 1- Nigeria has ordered the closure of all its land borders and restricted road traffic for Saturday National Assembly poll to ensure a hitch-free vote, an official statement said.

"The federal government has directed that all land borders be closed from 12 noon (1100 GMT) on Friday, 1 April, 2011 to 6:00 am (0500 GMT) on Sunday, 3 April, 2011," the minister of interior, Emmanuel Ihenacho, said the statement late Thursday.

"This is to ensure a peaceful and hitch free conduct of the 2011 National Assembly elections taking place on 2 April, 2011," the statement said.

"In the same vein, vehicular movements have been restricted nationwide from 8:00 am (0700 GMT) to 5.00 pm(1600 GMT) on the election day, Saturday, 2 April, 2011," it added.

Only election officials and security personnel as well as those on essential and emergency duties will be allowed to drive on the roads, it added.

Analysts say there is a risk of a flare-up in violence during and after polls in Nigeria, Africa\’s leading oil producer.

Killings, fatal bomb blasts and other types of attacks have already hit a number of states in the run up to the polls, prompting concern from authorities.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday appealed to his countrymen to shun the violence that has tainted past polls.

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"Nigeria cannot afford to be distracted by acts of mindless violence and primordial tendencies at this critical period of our nation’s history," he said.

The legislative, presidential and governorship elections are to be held over three successive weekends beginning from Saturday.

Police chiefs (commissioners) in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja have been re-deployed ahead of the elections, an official statement said on Friday.

"The posting is to position the commissioners of police for effective performance of their duties during the forthcoming general elections," the police said in the statement.


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