ABUJA, Nigeria — Paramilitary police and soldiers swarmed Nigeria's capital Thursday ahead of the ruling party's presidential primary convention, where delegates will pick the candidate expected to become the next leader of Africa's most populous nation.
The primary pits Christian President Goodluck Jonathan against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, highlighting the religious and ethnic fault lines running through this oil-rich nation of 150 million.
The primary winner is expected to go on to victory in the April election.
Security was tight on Thursday in Abuja, where car bombings during an October independence celebration killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more. Another bomb tore through an open-air beer garden in the city on New Year's Eve, killing at least four people.
Federal police spokesman Olusola Amore said more than 17,000 officers were on hand for the primary convention. On Wednesday night, officials sealed off major roads crisscrossing the arid capital and paramilitary police with night-vision goggles monitored traffic.