Lagos: A security official at a Nigeria college on Thursday dismissed reports that a massacre at a nearby student housing area that left at least 40 people dead was linked to tensions over a campus vote.

“I have no evidence to link it to the election,” Shuaib Aroke, deputy registrar at Federal Polytechnic Mubi, where some of those killed in the Tuesday massacre were enrolled, told AFP.

“It is a fallacy,” he said of the supposed link being suggested by some Nigerian authorities. “We are united here at polytechnic,” added Aroke, who said he is currently in charge of security on campus.

He however said he had no information on who was behind the killings.

Suspicions have also fallen on extremist group Boko Haram, which has carried out scores of attacks in Nigeria’s north-east and was the target of a military raid last week in Mubi.

In the student vote, there were suggestions of ethnic tensions between the mainly Muslim Hausas and predominately Christian Igbos, and a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency said some of the victims were candidates.

“There were three contestants for the polytechnic election. A Hausa man got the president with 1,500 votes. The second place was an Igbo with around 1,000 and another man from Edo [state, south-west] got 300,” Aroke explained.

“The election was conducted in a very peaceful atmosphere... All the contestants signed the results sheet.”

He noted that voting took place on Saturday, while the massacre — in which some of the victims were called out by name before being shot or having their throats slit — happened early Tuesday.

Police in northeastern Adamawa state, where Mubi is located, said they have arrested “many suspects” in connection with the slaughter, but have declined to provide further details.

Another school official, who requested anonymity, said most of those being held were students.

The police hunting for the killers of 26 people said they had raided houses and made a number of arrests on Wednesday.

The police commissioner for Adamawa state Mohammad Ebrahim told Reuters by telephone his officers had made a number of arrests, but declined to give any further details.

He said the force was still keeping an open mind on whether the killings were carried out by militants or rival students, but there were signs of an “inside job”.

“Relatives of the slain students said the assailants called their names out before killing them. The majority were killed with gun shots or slaughtered like goats,” he added.

One possibility was that the killings were related to a dispute between rival political groups at the Federal Polytechnic Mubi following a student union election on Sunday, Ebrahim said.