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Nigerian senator arrested over political violence

Less than 36 hours before the start of Nigeria’s general elections — already mired in controversy after polls were hurriedly delayed for a week — the campaign violence casts shadow over at least two contenders.

On Friday a Nigerian senator was arrested in north-central Kwara state after an attack on the campaign train of his opponent left two people dead.

Rafiu Ibrahim, a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was called for questioning Thursday night over the attack and was detained, according to police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi.

“It is true we invited him for interrogation and he is still with us as part of our investigations into the violence,” Okasanmi told reporters Friday.

PDP members have condemned the arrest, calling it an attempt to weaken Ibrahim’s strategies ahead of Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary polls in which Ibrahim is standing for reelection.

But Ibrahim’s main challenger, Lola Ashiru of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), insisted the senator was responsible for the attack on his convoy in Ojoku, the hometown of the incumbent senator. The senator denied the allegations.

The opposition APC had petitioned the police, requesting it to investigate the attack and arrest the senator.

Kwara state is one of the red spots in the election.

Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters, out of whom 72.8 million are eligible to vote, will elect a new president and federal parliamentarians on Saturday.

Main contenders are the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger from the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president.

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