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After a week's delay Nigerians finally go to the polls

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
After a week's delay Nigerians finally go to the polls
Copyright  REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

After a week's delay Nigeria has finally gone to the polls with over 72 million people registered to vote.

With only hours to go before the polls opened last Saturday the election commission had called a halt, saying there'd been attempted sabotage and difficulties delivering ballot papers.

Presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed over logistics and security concerns.

The current president Muhammadu Buhari is hoping to remain in power and gain a second term in office.

His main challenger is former vice president Atiku Abubkar who, like Buhari, is in his seventies and is from the mainly Muslim north.

After Buhari voted in his hometown of Daura in the northern state of Katsina reporters asked the former military ruler if he would congratulate his rival if he lost. He replied "I will congratulate myself."

Analysts say the vote is too close to call.

Nigeria has Africa's biggest economy and its biggest population but it's plagued by insecurity.

Just hours before the polls opened Geidam city in Yobe state was attacked by suspected Islamic extremists and dozens of residents fled.

The city lies in the the northeast where an Islamist insurgency is raging - Boko Haram, the main group there had earlier promised to disrupt the vote.

Explosions were also heard Maiduguri. Police said in a statement that no part of the city had been attacked.

A civilian militia source told AFP "at least 13” blasts were heard throughout the city at about 6:00am (0500 GMT).