With Boko Haram on the Run, Yobe Holds First Council Poll in 4yrs

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Michael Olugbode

Residents of the 17 local governments in Yobe State Saturday went to the poll to elect council officials, four years after such exercise was carried out due to deadly attacks by Boko Haram.

Yesterday’s council elections recorded no security breach as voters filed out to exercise their franchise in large numbers.

A visit to some of the polling booths in highly populated Damaturu and Potiskum, showed that the electorate did not express any fear of suicide attacks, a clear indication of the improved security in the two towns.
While many polling booths witnessed large turnout, some others recorded low turnout of voters.

Speaking on the elections at his Yindiski polling unit in Potiskum after casting his vote, the Yobe State Deputy Governor, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, said he was glad that local government election could be held in Damaturu again after the delay caused by Boko Haram insurgency.

He said: “We have done this for the third time considering the situation we have been experiencing, which is the lack of peace in our state.”

He added that the state battled Boko Haram crisis for six years but that it was good news that “peace has gradually returned to our state.”
Aliyu said despite the security challenge, Yobe was one of the few states in the country that have conducted elections into their councils for more than two times in recent years.

He said: “We have been organizing this exercise, this is the third time we have organized this.’
He added that: “The story is a positive one, that we are able to organize this election and there has not been any uprising and anyone trying to stop the vote, people have been moving from polling units to cast their votes.”

The deputy governor said: “We thank God for the peace we are enjoying; we thank our governor for giving us all the support to carry out this exercise.”
Several towns and villages in Yobe were among territories in the Northeast occupied by Boko Haram until the Muhammadu Buhuari-led government launched a military campaign to root them out.

President Buhari had last December announced the capture of the last stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorist sect, Sambisa forest, in Borno State by the Nigerian troops. The fall of the area also known as “camp zero”, was viewed as a great boost to the antiterrorism war.

The capture of Sambisa forest followed sustained battles by the military, which had earlier launched what it called a final onslaught against the insurgents. The Boko Haram insurgents had been holed up in Sambisa forest for many years and used the base for the planning and execution of terror attacks in different parts of the North-east, with Yobe and Borno being the worst hit.

Insurgency in the region had claimed more than 15,000 lives since 2009 and until the assumption of office of President Buhari, Boko Haram controlled territories in the two states.