The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it will not deploy its staff to conduct the forthcoming elections in Madagali and Michika of Adamawa State which the Nigerian Military recently recaptured from Boko Haram.
INEC says it is yet to get clearance from security operatives to hold elections in the areas.
Michika and Madagali were the last areas recaptured in Adamawa by the Nigerian Military and its allies in Chad, Cameroon and Nigerian.
The INEC spokesperson in the state, 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 cannot expect INEC to deploy staff for the elections in those areas. Already INEC had created designated centres here in the state capital for IDPs elections.
Residents of the affected communities are also reluctant to return or vote in the communities despite successes recorded by the Nigerian military.
Over 148, 375 voters according to INEC statistics fled Madagali and Michika local governments after they were raided by Boko Haram.
But most of the displaced persons at Internally Displaced Persons 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 National Youth Service Corp IDP camp.
While Mr. Yohanna lauded the military intervention, he said the security situation even after the recapture of their communities was hazy. “We are not certain about the situation around our area in Garta. I don’t think anybody wishes to return now. Some of the Boko Haram men may have fled to return again,” he said.
Another resident who fled, Habu Musa, said they are afraid of returning to vote in the 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 are prepared to vote at the designated centres designed by INEC,” said Mr. Musa.
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,” Ms. Watharda said.
She added that the proximity of the area to Sambisa Forest, known as Boko Haram’s main camp, ade 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.
Community leaders like Abdullahi Damare of the Interfaith Mediation Centre, believe the military would need to embark on confidence-building at the expiration of the six-week operation so as to assure people of 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,” Mr. Damare said.
Also Kwache David who was also affected by Boko Haram attack in Michika says it is too early for the displaced residents to return home as terrorists had not been totally eliminated.
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.
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.
Some Boko Haram men launched multiple attacks on Ngamboru-Ngala and three communities near Chibok, South of Borno where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted almost a year ago.