Nigeria has trained 167,000 police officers to manage an election next year in which President Goodluck Jonathan is widely expected to seek another term.
In an effort to ensure a fair and peaceful vote in a country with a chequered electoral past, authorities have been trained “on various aspects of policing elections”, national police spokesman Frank Mba told news agency AFP on Saturday.
He said Nigeria hopes to train between 350,000 and 370,000 police officers ahead of the poll.
Nigeria has had a history of electoral malpractice since gaining independence from Britain in 1960.
In 1993, the military under General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the country’s presidential election, widely believed to be the fairest and freest so far, plunging the nation into a bloody political crisis.
In 2011, Jonathan’s disputed re-election led to sectarian violence in which several hundred people died.
But Mba expressed confidence that greater preparedness on the part of police will prevent trouble this time around.
Jonathan has so far refused to declare his plans but is widely expected to seek re-election, despite mounting pressure within his own party to stand aside.
He has been accused of breaking an unwritten rule in the PDP which calls for the presidency to rotate between Christians from the south, like Jonathan, and Muslims from the north.
Mba said a governorship election in southwest Ekiti state on Saturday passed without any major incidents, in part due to an increased police presence.
Police threw a security cordon around the state ahead of the poll, seen as a crucial test for Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) amid waning national support, restricting movement and deploying hundreds of riot squads to curb violence.