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Fresh violence fears hangs over Nigeria ahead of polls

Fears of violence is driving people out of major cities and towns to rural communities.

A file photo taken on 30 April, 2013 shows soldiers walking in the street in the remote northeast town of Baga, Borno State. Boko Haram launched renewed attacks around a captured town in restive northeast Nigeria this week, razing at least 16 towns and villages, a local government and a union official told AFP on 8 January, 2015. Picture: AFP.

ABUJA - Fears of violence is driving people out of major cities and towns to rural communities and their states of origin.

Nigeria is prepared to go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president and members of the national assembly.

Barely 24 hours before the polls, which were postponed by the electoral body six weeks ago citing security concerns as a result of Boko Haram activity, it seems all is now set for Nigerian's general elections.

However, fears of violence is driving people out of major cities and towns to rural communities and their state of origins.

The two leading candidates in Saturday's presidential election, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and opposition leader Muhammadu Buharai, will be contesting a race for the most powerful job in Africa; a race many have regarded as too close to call.

GOVERNMENT DENIES "FRESH ABDUCTION" IN DAMASAK

Nigeria's government denied there had been an abduction of hundreds of people in the northeast town of Damasak after its recapture from Islamist jihadist group Boko Haram, the national information centre said on Thursday.

Damasak residents said earlier this week that over 400 women and children had been rounded up and taken from the town by fleeing militants.

The town was recently liberated by Chadian and Nigerien troops pressing an offensive against Boko Haram.

Boko Haram abducted some 200 schoolgirls in April. Attempts to find them have so far proved fruitless and a vociferous global #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign has engendered strong criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Information Centre said in a statement "there is no fresh abduction in Damasak" in Borno state, the heartland of a six-year insurgency; but it added it did not have figures for the number of missing people in the community.

Boko Haram has been trying to carve out an Islamic state in the country's northeast and managed to take over an area the size of Belgium by the start of the year.

Nigerian forces and the foreign troops have driven the militants out of a string of towns in simultaneous offensives over the past month.

The government said all but three local government areas in Borno had been cleared of militants. Nigerians head to the polls on Saturday for general elections.

President Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party, which has dominated politics since the end of military rule in 1999, is hoping to be re-elected.

Additional reporting from Reuters.

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