Nigeria elections 2015
Nigerians take to the polls six weeks after elections were delayed to fight Islamist insurgents Boko HaramReuters

At least three people have been killed and several others have been injured in suspected Boko Haram attacks on polling stations in northeast in Nigeria on Saturday (28 March), according to local reports.

The attacks were carried out in the neighbouring villages of Birin Bolawa and Birin Fulani, in Gombe state.

An election official, who requested to remain anonymous, told AFP: "We could hear the gunmen shouting, 'Didn't we warn you about staying away from [the] election?'"

The elections were delayed by six weeks due to the security threat posed by the militant Islamist group. They had originally be due to be held on 14 February.

The same election official told AFP that masked gunmen arrived in Birin Bolowa in a pickup truck at around 8.30am (7.30am GMT), shooting one voter dead as others scattered in panic.

"They set fire to all the election materials we abandoned as we escaped," he added.

A resident of Birin Fulani, Karim Jauro, told AFP the second attack was carried out at around 9.15am (10.15 GMT).

"As soon as people saw them they began to run away but the gunmen opened fire on the polling station, killing one man," he said.

"They burnt the election materials. We strongly believe they are Boko Haram who have been warning people not to participate in the elections."

In a video message sent last month, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to disrupt the election, which he condemned as "un-Islamic".

"This election will not be held even if we are dead. Even if we are not alive, Allah will not allow you to do it," he said.

The threats have prompted the authorities to deploy heavy security across the country.

Experts believe the elections could be pivotal in Nigeria's fight against the extremists, especially as Boko Haram has allied itself with the terrorist group Islamic State (Isis).

The election is being billed as the tightest presidential race ever in the 16-year post-independence history of the Western African nation.

Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democracy Party (PDP) faces a tough fight from the All Progressives Congress's (APC) Muhammadu Buhari.