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Some Nigerians uncounted in census

Tue., March 28, 2006

ABUJA, Nigeria – A weeklong census ended Monday in Nigeria as workers scrambled to tally everyone across Africa’s most-populous nation, but many remained uncounted in the exercise, marred by violence and the lack of forms, census takers and money.

At least 15 people died in violence related to the count.

Police said they clashed with separatists opposed to the census in the country’s southeast, while two communities in the southwest fought a deadly clash in a land dispute sparked by the count.

Some of Nigeria’s estimated 120 to 160 million people had not yet been reached by late Monday, but census takers were going to try to finish by midnight, said Samui’la Makama, the head of the census commission.

President Olusegun Obasanjo had extended the first count in 15 years by two days on Saturday after complaints that many had not been counted due to violence or poor organization.

Previous censuses in Nigeria’s 36 states were marred by manipulation. Population plays a role in deciding how political power is allocated and how to share the national treasury, filled with oil revenues.

In one example of the problems faced this year, about 15 villages inhabited by more than 45,000 herders in the northeastern Yobe state had not been counted by Monday because they were not included in the official census map, said Musa Usman, senior census official in the region.

A security agent foiled one official’s attempt to sell forms for use in falsifying figures in central Benue state, the head of the census commission said.

In many parts of the country, the census was hit by shortages of materials and workers, many of whom disappeared after receiving their $40 allowance for completing the training.

It was unclear when preliminary results would be published.


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