SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK:The results showed that Buhari’s main rival, businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, could no longer catch up.

The candidate with the most votes nationwide is declared winner as long as they have at least one-quarter of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital, otherwise there is a run-off. Buhari has already secured enough votes to avoid a run-off vote, the Reuters tally showed.

Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and biggest economy but it is struggling to emerge from a 2016 recession and corruption is rife. A decade-old Islamist insurgency has killed thousands of people in the northeast, many of them civilians.

Buhari, 76, is a former military ruler who took office in 2015 and sought a second term with pledges to fight corruption while overhauling the country’s creaking road and rail network.

Voting took place on Saturday after a week-long delay which the election commission said was due to logistical problems.

But the event – Africa’s largest democratic exercise – has been marred by violence in which 47 people have been killed since Saturday, according to the Situation Room, a monitoring organization linking various civic groups.

Some of the deaths took place about after gangs allied to either of the leading parties clashed with each other and police over theft of ballot boxes and vote fraud. Police have not yet provided casualty figures.

More than 260 people have been killed in total since the start of the election campaign in October. The toll is lower than in previous elections, but in the past the worst unrest broke out after results were announced.