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INEC will not hold elections in recently recaptured areas

By Tom Garba, Yola
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Contrary to claims by groups claims to be Michika elders that Madagali and Michika that were recently recaptured in Adamawa are safe for elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it will not deploy its staff to conduct the forthcoming elections in the two areas, as the electoral body is yet to get clearance from security operatives.

Nigerian troops had recaptured towns of Michika and Madagali local government areas of Adamawa, however there is stiff rejection by the affected communities to return back and conduct the scheduled general elections.

Michika and Madagali were the last areas that were recaptured in Adamawa as mopping up operation of some of the communities where terrorists have been cleared in the course of ongoing air and land operations has indicated massive casualty inflicted on insurgents, '' Yes they were killed in dozens,'' so confirmed a local hunter Mr Young Morris engaged in the mopping operations.

Reacting to evacuation of displaced persons to the recaptured towns, the INEC spokesperson Mrs Rifkatu Duku said, '' We are not going to risk the lives of our staff, because we are yet to get the situational report from the security operatives.

''So you can expect INEC to deploy staff for the elections in those areas, already INEC had created designated centre here in the state capital for IDPs elections.

''Preparations are on top gear for the elections,'' she said.

Many residents who fled communities captured by Boko Haram have said they are unsure of returning home despite successes reportedly recorded by the Nigerian military.

Over 148, 375 voters according to INEC statics fled in Madagali and Michika local governments in Adamawa State after they were raided and captured by Boko Haram.

The Federal Government had assured that it was determined to retake communities under Boko Haram control to ensure residents return home before the elections rescheduled to hold on March 28 and April 11.

This, it said, was responsible for the six-week shift of the 2015 general elections. But most of the displaced persons at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Yola,and other places said they are not planning to return home yet.

“The military were on ground when Boko Haram came and took over our town. Though the same military has recaptured our land now, but we aren't sure the insurgents won't come back,” said an elderly man, Zira Yohanna at the NYSC IDP camp.

Though Yohanna lauded the military intervention, he said the security situation even after the recapture of their communities was cloudy. “The situation around our area in Garta , is not certain to us. I don't think anybody wishes to return now. Some of the Boko Haram men may have fled to return again,” he said.

Most displaced persons believe Boko Haram could spring surprises even after the six-week military operation, citing the isolated attacks and bomb explosions occurring in Borno and Yobe during the week as reason.

Some Boko Haram men had launched multiple attacks on Ngamboru-Ngala and three communities near Chibok, south of Borno where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted almost a year.

Another fleeing resident of Uba,Mr Habu Musa said they are afraid of returning to conduct elections, ''No, we will not return until after the elections,only last week, we heard that three Boko Haram suspects were nabbed in Michika.

''We are wary of these politicians, we prepare to conduct our elections at the designated centres designed by INEC,'' said Musa.

In her words, a female fleeing resident from Waga Chakawa in Madagali,Mrs Rejoice Watharda said, '' We will stay till after elections after full normalcy restored.

''It's about ten kilometers away to Gwoza from Madagali. They are still in Gwoza holding sway and you know there is heavy fight and Boko Haram are on rampage,'' she fears.

She added that the proximity of the area to Sambisa Forest, known as Boko Haram's main camp, made the communities vulnerable to insurgent's attacks.

''Boko Haram who may have fled the battlefield around Gwoza and Sambisa areas, where the military also said it was carrying out a major offensive against the insurgents, so they could resurface,'' she said.

For community leaders, like Mr Abdullahi Njidda Damare of the Interfaith Mediation Centre however, believe the military would need to embark on confidence building at the expiration of the six-week operation so as to give people assurance on their security when they finally return to their communities.

“What is required is sensitization and confidence building by the military to assure the people that they will be secured even after the operation,” Damare said.

So also Mr Kwache David who was also affected by Boko Haram attack in Michika,saying that it's is too early for the displaced residents to returned back home as terrorists had not been eliminated, despite significant success by the military.

He said what should be paramount in the minds of everyone is the reconstruction of the reclaimed territories that were totally destroyed by the insurgents.