* Ruling party retains many governorships
* Opposition gains ground in southwest
* Hundreds killed in election violence last week
(Updates throughout with more results)
By James Jukwey
ABUJA, April 27 Nigeria's ruling party has lost
control of at least two states in governorship elections,
according to results emerging on Wednesday, although it
performed strongly in some parts of the mostly-Muslim north.
The state governorship races, which began on Tuesday, are
the final stage in elections which have seen some of the worst
political violence in years in Africa's most populous nation.
Rioting left hundreds dead in the mostly Muslim north last
week after President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian,
beat northern rival Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential vote.
The state governors are among the most powerful politicians
in Nigeria, wielding influence over national policy and in some
cases controlling budgets larger than small African nations, and
the ruling party is keen to maintain its strong regional grip.
With results in from half of the 24 states in which
governorship elections were held, the ruling People's Democratic
Party (PDP) held on to seven but lost two -- Ogun in the
southwest and Nasarawa in the centre.
But it won Kano, the most populous state in the north, from
the opposition and swept all assembly seats in the northern
state of Sokoto.
Lagos, the commercial capital, remained the southwestern
stronghold of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as
expected while the northern state of Yobe remained in the hands
of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Graphic on elections: link.reuters.com/xet78r
More stories, background and analysis: [ID:nLDE68H051]
TABLE-Latest governorship election results [ID:nLDE73P1X1]
Ballot box snatching and intimidation marred Tuesday's votes
in some parts of Nigeria, but there was nothing on the scale of
the violence last week which followed the presidential election.
"Although in general there was low turnout, reports from
observers indicate that the elections were well organised and
largely peaceful in many states," said the Election Situation
Room, a grouping of more than 20 civil society groups.
"In other states, however, there were considerable reports
of violence, ballot box snatching and other forms of electoral
malpractice," it said in a statement.
There were immediate cries of foul play.
"We're going to contest the result in the court of law
because this is not the true reflection of the votes by the
people," said Musa Sule of the Congress for Progressive Change
(CPC) in the northern state of Jigawa, won by the PDP.
The ruling party said it would challenge the result in
Soldiers arrested people stealing ballot boxes in several
states around the country on Tuesday, including parts of the
oil-producing Niger Delta in the south and Kano in the north.
Police on Wednesday confirmed the shooting of a member of a
state assembly in the southern Delta state. The force said her
driver was killed in the incident which it said was "ballot box
The governorship vote is due to end on Thursday in the
northern states of Kaduna and Bauchi, areas which saw some of
the worst riots last week.
This month's elections have been an emotional rollercoaster
for the 73 million registered voters in Nigeria, which -- until
11 days ago -- had failed to hold a single credible election
since the end of military rule in 1999.
Euphoria over a presidential vote deemed free and fair by
observers turned to despair last week as Buhari rejected the
outcome and his supporters took to the streets, burning
churches, mosques and homes. Tens of thousands of people are
still sheltering in army barracks.
Jonathan's PDP saw its parliamentary majority narrow in this
month's polls and had also been expected to lose some states
after Tuesday's vote. Buhari's Congress for Progressive Change,
a new party, is expected to perform strongly in the north.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Andrew Heavens)
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