Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Mahmood Yakubu announced the postponement of elections hours before polls were set to open on Saturday, February 16. According to the announcement, presidential and national assembly elections are rescheduled for Saturday, February 23, and gubernatorial and state assembly elections postponed from Saturday, March 2, to Saturday, March 9.
Business and transportation disruptions, including vehicle restrictions and checkpoints, border restrictions, and heightened security measures are still possible on February 16. Previously planned security measures are likely to be in place for the new election dates, including closure of border crossings, checkpoints, roadblocks, curfews, and an increased security personnel presence. Other disruptions, including vehicle restrictions and bank, business, administrative offices, and school closures, are likely on and around February 23 and March 9. Protests and political rallies cannot be ruled out.
Presidential elections in Nigeria have a detailed record of unrest, fraud allegations, and backroom dealings. In 2015, Boko Haram attacks on voting centers killed 41 people; in 2011, bomb attacks before the elections and deadly post-election election clashes left over 1000 people dead. Moreover, the lack of voter cards and technical problems with biometric card readers have hindered previous election processes.
Individuals in Nigeria are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate significant business and transportation disruptions and increased security measures, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Nigeria remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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