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Borno, Yobe voters defy Boko Haram

EFCC operatives caution against vote buying and circulation of voodoo dollars, during the voting exercise at Kwakwachi Primary School in Kano yesterday Photo: EFCC
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The presidential and National Assembly elections, which held across the country yesterday, witnessed a large turnout of voters in many places in the North despite security challenges. While the elections were peaceful in most places, others recorded pockets of crisis. Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

 

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There was a high turnout of voters in many areas of Borno and Yobe states despite the spate of insecurity in the zone. A suspected attack by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital early Saturday morning did not scare voters as they came out in large numbers.

According to an internally displaced person, Umar Garba, a mortar attack was launched into the Teachers Village camp at 6am, but it did not cause any damage.

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“It penetrated the earth and flew out of the camp. I and the child I was walking with fell down, but we soon rose and walked away without any injury. The rocket did not cause any damage in the camp,’’ he explained.

A cross section of internally displaced persons told Daily Trust on Sunday that they were determined to exercise their franchise and would not be deterred.

“Unless a mortar fired at the camp kills all of us, nothing will stop us from coming out in large numbers to cast our votes,’’ Ibrahim Usman, an internally displaced person said.

After casting his vote, Governor Kashim Shettima expressed delighted at the process, saying, “This shows that our people have decided to defy all odds to exercise their franchise. This portends great things to come to this nation. It is not yet Uhuru, but we are on the road to the Promised Land. This is a beautiful day for democracy and a great day for the nation.’’

The spokesman of the police in Borno State, DSP Edet Okon, said in a statement that insurgents launched artillery shots at security facilities. “The shots were fired, probably with a view to weakening security forces to give the insurgents an easy access to disrupt the elections, but they met the superior artillery power of the military,’’ he said.

Also, Gaidam, Yobe State, came under attack at 6:15am, forcing many people to flee. However, there was a large turnout of voters as the military subdued the assailants at 9:40am and called the fleeing residents to return and exercise their civic rights.

One of the residents, Muhammad Ilyas, who fled along with his family members to Yunusari, told Daily Trust on Sunday that, “Initially, we were all jittery, but we summoned courage to return when a senior military officer assured us of protection throughout the voting process.

Another resident, who did not want his name mentioned, said, “I can’t take this risk for any other candidate except Muhammadu Buhari. It is a promise I made to myself and it has been fulfilled.’’

One of the presiding officers at the Viewing Centre polling unit in Gaidam, Malam Adamu, said that almost 80 per cent of the registered voters cast their votes. “The election was smooth and peaceful; we didn’t have any issue with card readers.

Speaking on the security situation in the zone, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ahmad Makama, said, “Ordinarily, we should have postponed the elections until tomorrow, but nobody knows what would happen the next day.’’

Gaidam town has 10 registration areas with 69,656 registered voters. Ten electoral wards in Gujba Local Government Area were relocated to Damaturu after a security meeting involving stakeholders following an attack that left four soldiers dead.

The director-general, press affairs and information to the Yobe State governor, Abdullahi Bego, said that as a result of the attack, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam could not travel to Bukarti ward, near Gaidam, to cast his vote. He, however, said the governor commended security agencies for bringing the situation under control and ensuring a peaceful election.

In Benue, contrary to early concerns that there would be violence in some local government areas, such as Guma, Kastina-Ala, Ukum, Agatu, Logo, Gwer and parts of Makurdi, there was a large turnout of voters and there was no reported case of breakdown of law and order.

Apart from the malfunctioning of card readers in some of these areas, which delayed the exercise from starting at 8:00am, no other hiccup was recorded.

However, two persons were apprehended with 43 Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) at Gbajimgba Secondary School polling units.

Terseer Iordye, 27, who was caught with 37 PVCs could not give any useful explanation. He told newsmen that he collected them from INEC office in Gbajimgba, the headquarters of Guma Loacl Government Area.

Similarly, Christopher Iordye, who was also nabbed with six PVCs, said those who were displaced as a result of crisis in their communities gave it to him for safe keeping.

Also, internally displaced persons expressed sadness that electoral materials were not delivered at the camps to enable them to exercise their franchise.

But INEC’s head of voter education, publicity, gender and civil society organisations in the state, Emmanuel Okpe, said proper arrangement had been made for displaced persons who have Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to vote at polling units close to the camp, and that they were informed accordingly.

“Those who have gone back to their homes will vote at their original polling units while those who are still at the camp will also vote under the arrangement made by INEC in locating a polling unit close to the camp,’’ he said.

In Zamfara State, polling stations in areas with security threats were relocated to relatively safer wards. For instance, voters in Gusami ward in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area, one of the areas hit by armed banditry, exercised their civic rights in Birnin Magaji town. Similarly, voters in some villages in Nasarawa Gödel ward cast their votes at the headquarters of the ward.

In Anka Local Government, several polling units were relocated to relatively safer Bagega ward.

Our correspondent reports that in Katsina, where many areas have been ravaged by the activities of bandits, election did not start on time due to the late arrival of materials and apprehension among residents and electoral officers.

There was, however, no reported attack at the time of filing this report.

But there was low turnout in most of the polling units as a result of massive relocation of villagers to towns. Voting started late at Zamfarawar Modogara, Madogara, Nahuta and Yasore polling units.

Jibia, Dandume, Faskari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Safana, Kankara and Batsari local councils were mostly affected by the attacks.

Also, 2,685 internally displaced persons at Batsari Model Primary School were able to cast their votes. However, most of them could not vote because they did not have voter’s cards.

An electoral officer told our correspondent that voters from Mallabawa and Rumah and some neighbouring communities were moved to Batsari town due to the fear of attacks.

Also, in Taraba State, some hitches which nearly resulted in serious crisis were recorded in Ibi and Wukari. Daily Trust on Sunday


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