Boko Haram was unable to disrupt elections in Nigeria but its allegiance to Islamic State shows the group has an agenda that reaches well beyond Africa’s most populous country, a UN envoy said Monday. Mohammad ibn Chambas, the UN envoy for West Africa, told the Security Council that while Boko Haram fighters staged attacks on election day in Bauchi state, northeast Nigeria, “they didn’t have an impact on the voting process. Boko Haram was unable to disrupt the electoral process,” he told the 15-member council.
Election officials worked into the night Monday counting the results from Nigeria’s tight presidential vote, while the U.S. and Britain warned of “disturbing indications” the tally could be subject to political interference. Early returns gave former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari seven states while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan had five, including the Federal Capital Territory. But results from another 25 states were still to be tallied, and 22 states had not yet delivered their results to the counting center in Abuja, indicating a winner could not be announced before Tuesday. As expected, Buhari swept two major northern states of Kano and Kaduna, delivering crushing defeats to Jonathan there. In Kano, the state with the second-largest number of voters, Buhari had 1.9 million votes to Jonathan’s 216,000.
Tensions were building in Nigeria on Sunday as partial results from presidential elections, posted unofficially on the internet, raised expectations of an unprecedented opposition victory for former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. Aides to President Goodluck Jonathan insisted the incumbent was still on course to secure the result and cautioned against numbers that had yet to be given a final stamp of approval by the Independent National Electoral Commission. “There is lots of hype and both sides are selectively putting up things on line. But we have been collecting results from units across the country,” said Deameari Von Kemedi, a lead campaigner for Mr Jonathan. “According to our own internal projections, although we do not have the complete picture yet, we project a Jonathan victory.”
Nigerian’s electoral commission extended voting to Sunday in a president election plagued by polling place delays and glitches in a new electronic voter accreditation system. The balloting was also marred by violence, with seven voters killed in Gombe state by suspected Boko Haram gunmen, according to local residents, and attacks on electoral officials in the volatile Rivers State. Widespread problems were reported with the new biometric card readers aimed at identifying voters’ thumb prints before actual balloting began, As a result, voting was delayed for hours. The Independent National Electoral Commission agreed to extend voting to Sunday at polling places where there had been failures in the biometric system. The election commission acknowledged that the equipment had failed in many areas and voter accreditation had been too slow. “The commission reassures the public that it will thoroughly investigate what happened while it stays committed to credible elections,” the board said in a statement Saturday.
Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer – stepped up security in its capital Abuja on Monday, deploying soldiers and putting up barricades before Saturday’s election. DW’s correspondent in Abuja, Ben Shemang, said soldiers, police and even plainclothes security operatives were to be seen at the barricades. “Sometimes they do stop-and-search,” he said. A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the government “needs to give citizens a sense of protection.” But political analyst Anselm Okolo told the German news agency dpa there was no reason for the deployment of soldiers “other than intimidation of opponents of President Jonathan.”
I was looking forward to being in Nigeria this weekend, writing a preview for the presidential elections at the end of the month. Not the way every Telegraph reader might want to spend their weekend, I grant you, but by foreign correspondents’ standards, it’s a Premier League fixture. The contest will decide who rules West Africa’s most important country, and in the wake of last year’s kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the wider world will be following it in a way they never used to. Sadly, if it’s on-the-ground reportage you want, don’t come to me. Or The Times or Channel 4 News. Or any of the 20-odd other British media outlets that have asked for press visas to cover the elections, and whose applications still languish in a pile at the Nigerian High Commission in London. (Fee £300, non-returnable.)
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission is set to hold credible elections starting March 28 after delaying the ballots by six weeks, its Chairman Attahiru Jega said. “We believe we have done everything humanly possible to be able to conduct elections that are free, fair, credible and peaceful,” Jega told reporters on Monday in the capital, Abuja. “We are adequately prepared.” Out of 68.8 million people on the electoral register, 56 million, or 81 percent, have collected voter cards, from 67.8 million printed for national distribution, he said.
The news that Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) makes for sombre reading. The conflict raging in west Africa has taken thousands of lives, destroyed homes and destabilised a fragile region. The human cost is a tragedy and the political ramifications alarming. Nigeria’s presidential election, already postponed, is close to being unhinged as the conflict with Boko Haram becomes a focal point of the campaign. Indeed, should it go ahead? If the election were to be deferred again, it would not guarantee against a scenario of riots, authoritarian twists and political manoeuvring. A second postponement would send out two signals: that Nigeria is not ready for democracy in action and that it is weakening in the face of Boko Haram’s assault.
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured prospective voters that the elections now scheduled for March 28 will proceed as planned despite concerns the vote could be postponed again for security reasons. The general election, originally set for February 14, was postponed by the INEC, which cited security challenges in parts of the country’s north, where Boko Haram militants often attack civilians. Nick Dazang, INEC’s deputy director for public affairs, said the electoral body is using the postponement period to strengthen systems to ensure a transparent, credible, free and fair election. Dazang spoke after opposition groups including the All Progressives Congress led by retired General Muhammadu Buhari said they will not accept another “unconstitutional” postponement of the election.
They are still missing. #BringBackOurGirls was pleaded from the United Nations to the red carpet, from Michelle Obama to the Pope, but the Twitter activism and all the attention it garnered didn’t help. If anything, Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped and enslaved 276 young women in Nigeria 10 months ago, has only gotten stronger. Nigeria’s elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14, were postponed until March 28, ostensibly to give President Goodluck Jonathan’s government time to improve security. But the delay was met with allegations of political interference, as Jonathan is in a tight race against opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, who is from the northeastern region where Boko Haram is strongest. Denying the inference, Jonathan vowed in a CNN interview that there would be “serious advancements” against the terrorist group. But how will six weeks help?
Nigeria: Vote delay prompts suspicion of election rigging, worries of violence | The Washington Post
It had been two days since Nigeria’s presidential election was postponed at the behest of the military, and Idayat Hassan’s phone was ringing nonstop. “It’s like a coup against democracy,” said the director of the Center for Democracy and Development to the ninth or 10th reporter of the day. “It’s like blackmail,” Hassan said when her phone rang again. “I’m very worried,” she said to a colleague, and now she hung up the phone, put her head in her hands and sighed. “After 16 years of democracy — this.” This: For weeks, Africa’s most populous nation appeared to be barreling toward its most fiercely competitive election since it returned to civilian rule in 1999, a race between President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator. Hassan and others were training poll watchers. Ballot boxes were being distributed across the country. And Nigerians, from elite professionals to street hawkers, were beginning to sense a startling possibility: An election could actually kick the ruling party out. Except that then it all came to a grinding stop.
Nigeria’s presidential election on March 28 will not take place peacefully, AbuBakr Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, has said in a new video purportedly released by the group. In the video, released on social media on Tuesday and obtained by US based SITE intelligence group, Shekau issued a warning to the Goodluck Jonathan’s government that next month’s elections would be disrupted with violence. “Allah will not leave you to proceed with these elections even after us, because you are saying that authority is from people to people, which means that people should rule each other, but Allah says that the authority is only to him, only his rule is the one which applies on this land,” he said. “And finally we say that these elections that you are planning to do, will not happen in peace, even if that costs us our lives.
The delay of Nigeria’s elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14 and now set for March 28, did not exactly come as a surprise for Nigeria watchers. The Associated Press reported nearly 12 hours before the announcements that the elections would be pushed back six weeks, referencing an anonymous source. Princeton Lyman, in Foreign Policy, advocated for a delay of the elections due to the difficulties posed by the “nearly one million people displaced or controlled by Boko Haram.” Others, including National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, noted that the low levels of voter ID card distribution would hamper the election’s credibility. In particular, the uneven distribution of voter ID cards among Nigeria’s states portended political violence in a country with a short history of democracy and a long history of inter-regional distrust. And yet, when Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, arrived at the press conference to announce the delays, after a delay of more than five hours, voter ID distribution and IDPs were not on the agenda.
In northeast Nigeria, insurgent group Boko Haram group has distributed leaflets warning people to boycott the March 28 nationwide elections. But that is not the only threat to security, People are moving their families away from sites of possible tension around the country and are preparing for unrest once results are announced. From the Niger Delta to far northeast, the pre-election period has become a time of migration for some Nigerians. VOA met several on the streets of Kaduna. “My wife has been pestering me for the past three months,” said a man. “Even today, she called me to say ‘Are we ready to move to a safer ground?’” “Nobody wants to die for nothing. I myself, I am planning to relocate to the southern part of Kaduna where I will not be hearing sounds of war, drums of crisis, burning of tires and teargas, and all those kind of things,” said a woman.
There is mixed reaction to the six-week postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The vote was delayed by the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, primarily because of security concerns in northeastern Nigeria. INEC Chairman Atthiru Jega announced the change a week ago, saying the elections would be held March 28. President Goodluck Jonathan appeared on television to express his disappointment about the postponement but noted that the war against Boko Haram in the northeast was intensifying. Adebowale Adefuye, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, said Wednesday on VOA’s “Straight Talk Africa” that he was confident the election would be aboveboard and honest.
Nigeria’s electoral commission has delayed the Presidential election, which was to occur this Saturday, by six weeks in order for the military to launch an operation to secure the northeast from Boko Haram and guarantee the safety of voters in the region. President Goodluck Jonathan, whose government is undeniably corrupt and who could well lose the election to his challenger, the former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, stands to benefit from the postponement. It’s true that people in the northeast would find it difficult to vote: more than a million and a half of them have fled their homes, while others are living under Boko Haram occupation or have been warned by the Islamist terrorists not to participate in the election. It’s also true that Boko Haram’s insurgency began almost six years ago. If the government can neutralize the group in just six weeks, what has taken so long?
Nigerian authorities came under fire on Sunday over the decision to postpone national elections in the face of relentless Boko Haram violence, with the opposition branding the move a “major setback for democracy”. Nigeria’s electoral commission announced over the weekend that the presidential and parliamentary polls would be postponed from February 14 to March 28. The announcement came after weeks of near-daily attacks by the insurgents in the north-east, which had threatened the safety of the vote. But some observers charged that the political woes of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan — who faces a stiff challenge in his re-election bid against ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari — were the real reason for the delay.
Nigeria’s electoral commission will postpone next Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections for six weeks to give a new multinational force time to secure north-eastern areas under the sway of Boko Haram, an official close to the commission told the Associated Press on Saturday. Millions could be disenfranchised if the voting went ahead while the Islamic extremists hold a large swath of the north-east and commit mayhem that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes. Civil rights groups opposed to any postponement started a small protest on Saturday. Police prevented them from entering the electoral commission headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Armed police began deploying to block roads leading to the building. The Nigerian official, who is knowledgeable of the discussions, said the Independent National Electoral Commission would announce the postponement later on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“Nigerians Shocked!” proclaimed one headline reporting that presidential elections due to take place next Saturday had been delayed for six weeks. It was certainly a topic for discussion as people headed to church on Sunday in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital and a city where the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari has much support. The electoral commission said they were postponing elections by six weeks because troops needed to protect polling stations were occupied fighting Boko Haram militants. But reaction seems to have split along party lines, and many here saw the delay as a ploy to give the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) an opportunity to gain ground in the campaign. The news did not dampen electioneering, however, with APC youths chanting “change, change, change” as they headed for an afternoon rally in Ikoyi. Sweeping the road symbolically with brushes, they were vocal about their suspicions.
Nigeria: Boko Haram Massacres Civilians, Burns Down Mosque In Cameroon Days Before Nigeria Presidential Election | International Business Times
Members of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram massacred civilians and burned a mosque in the Cameroonian town of Fotokol Wednesday, residents said. The assault came hours after neighboring Chad sent troops who allegedly killed more than 200 Boko Haram fighters in the Nigerian town of Gamboru, located just 500 yards from Fotokol. Boko Haram extremists who escaped the fighting in Gamboru crossed over to Fotokol, where they targeted civilians. The fighters slit the throats of several townspeople and torched Fotokol’s primary mosque, multiple accounts said. At least 10 people were killed in the attack, according to one report. “Boko Haram inflicted so much damage here this morning. They have killed dozens of people,” Fotokol resident Umar Babakalli told Agence France-Presse in a phone interview. “They burnt houses and killed civilians as well as soldiers,” a source familiar with local security forces said.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan held talks Thursday on postponing next week’s presidential election over mounting attacks by the radical Boko Haram group, but the election commission insisted on maintaining the date, a governor said. Jonathan held seven hours of talks with security officials, state governors, the election commission and former heads of state on whether to proceed with the vote in the face of growing bloodshed in the northeast, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha told journalists. Among those attending the meeting of the Council of State was Jonathan’s main challenger in the election, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, who led Nigeria between 1983 and 1985.
Nigeria’s electoral commission has said it is postponing the Feb. 14 presidential election until March 28 due to security concerns, caving in to pressure from the ruling People’s Democratic Party in a move likely to enrage the opposition. Foreign powers are closely observing how elections will be held in Africa’s biggest economy and have voiced concerns over violence in the aftermath, as was the case after the 2011 election, when 800 people died. The postponement could stoke unrest in opposition strongholds such as the commercial capital, Lagos, and Nigeria’s second city, Kano, because the opposition has been staunchly against a delay. … “The commission cannot lightly wave off the advice of the nation’s security chiefs … The risk of deploying young men and women and calling people to exercise their democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility,” Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman Attahiru Jega told reporters.