Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Nation & World


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 4:05 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Thieves steal voting equipment at Nigeria airport

Thieves infiltrated Nigeria's main international airport and stole just-arrived equipment needed to register voters in the oil-rich nation ahead of next year's hotly contested presidential election, an official said Thursday.

Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria —

Thieves infiltrated Nigeria's main international airport and stole just-arrived equipment needed to register voters in the oil-rich nation ahead of next year's hotly contested presidential election, an official said Thursday.

The theft at Murtala Muhammed International Airport included an undisclosed number of laptops and cameras, said Kayode Idowu, a spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission. Officials hoped to use the gear to register an estimated 70 million eligible voters next month in preparation for the April election.

Idowu said the theft "is not substantially affecting the plans" for the coming voter registration drive.

"It is not as if it has derailed the program," the spokesman told The Associated Press.

By Thursday afternoon, the commission said it had recovered 16 of the 20 stolen machine

"There are adequate safety features to forestall any nefarious use of the stolen items," the commission said in a statement.

The theft, while not immediately linked to corrupt politicians, is a troubling sign heading into Nigeria's election. The West African nation emerged from dictatorships into an unsteady democracy only a decade ago, with thuggery and fraud a common feature in local, state and federal elections.

International observers called the 2007 election of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua rigged, even though it represented the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the nation's history.

The election commission and current President Goodluck Jonathan have promised to hold a free and fair election. To do that, officials tossed out former voter registration lists full of names of the dead and the fictitious. Precincts that see few voters sometimes reporting a 100 percent turnout in highly contested local elections.

The commission signed contracts worth more than $230 million to buy the voter registration equipment. It identified companies supplying the equipment as Avante International Technology Inc., Haier Electrical Appliances Ltd. and Zinox Technologies Ltd.

The theft also raises new questions about security at the airport. The U.S. put a six-year ban on direct flights from Murtala Muhammed in the 1990s over security concerns. Even today, some passengers encounter airport officials who try to solicit cash bribes while baggage handlers rifle through luggage for valuables.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009 with an explosive device hidden underneath his clothes, started his journey at Murtala Muhammed. Airport officials later purchased 3-D body scanners to use on passengers, though the machines often aren't used.

Akin Olukunle, a spokesman for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, said an investigation led by the country's secret police into the theft was ongoing. Olukunle said immigration and customs officials had access to the area, as well as airport security officials.

Security on the cargo side of the airport remains even more slipshod. Court cases in U.S. federal courts against oil firms suggest the Nigerian Customs Service suffers from widespread corruption. Customs spokesman Wale Adeniyi could not be reached for comment.

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Nation & World

UPDATE - 10:01 AM
Rebels tighten hold on Libya oil port

UPDATE - 09:29 AM
Reality leads US to temper its tough talk on Libya

UPDATE - 09:38 AM
2 Ark. injection wells may be closed amid quakes

Armed guards save Dutch couple from Somali pirates

Navy to release lewd video investigation findings

More Nation & World headlines...

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

advertising

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

Lab develops innovative vehicle technologynew
Nestled in the rolling Tennessee hills and forests, the secretive lab that developed power for the Manhattan Project is working to change the auto ind...
Post a comment

Advertising