- BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
Despite Boko Haram attacks on Geidam and Buni-Yadi towns in Yobe State on Saturday morning, heavy turnout of voters was still recorded.
Geidam and Buni-Yadi, which have always falling under attack on the insurgents, did not receive any reprieve as the insurgents took target at them.
Incidentally both towns are bases of the outgoing governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam (Geidam) and Alhaji Mai Mala-Buni, the All Progressives Congress gubernatorial candidate (Buni-Yadi).
Geidam and Buni-Yadi were attacked just about two hours to the commencement of the elections,
An hours to election where suspected insurgents lunched heavy attack at Gaidam the home town of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and Buni Yadi the national secretary of the (APC) governorship aspirant Mai Mala Buni also attacked.
In Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, the election was peaceful with many people trooped out to vote. Many of the residents came out as early as 7:30am to exercise their franchise.
It was also gathered that voters in Gujba local government, who have their voting centres relocated to Damaturu due to security challenge came out to vote at designated centres in large number.
The voters from Gujba local government were divided into three centres, including Government Secondary School, Government Girls College and Phase one secretariat all in Damaturu the state capital.
People contacted in Potiskum, Fune, Fika and Nangere local government said people massively came out to vote in orderly manner.
The people of Geidam in Yobe State were rudely woken from sleep as Boko Haram struck the town early Saturday morning.
Residents of the town told our correspondent on phone that the attackers were sighted at Maladari, a village located 7km to Geidam town around 3:23am.
They arrived Geidam around 6:35am and began shooting sporadically from all directions, as the residents, including women, children and the aged had to flee the town.
One of the residents, Mallam Abubakar told our correspondent at about 10am that: “I am currently taking refuge at Yunusari, the home town of the state governor.”
When asked about the elections, he said: “I am talking of my safety, you are talking of elections. We fell and I doubt if any of us is planning to go back there today. I do not think any of us even left with our PVC.”
He said that many residents that fled the town are in the bush with their wives and children without direction. “We are suffering, we don’t know what to do, some of us could not even think of election.”
Geidam town had fallen under Boko Haram attack in recent times.
During past attacks many soldiers, civilians and the warring Boko Haram lost their lives.
The attack prevented Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam from voting in Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Geidam, a town neighbouring the governor’s hometown, Bukarti in Yunusari local government area, fell to early Boko Haram attack and its security situation prevented the governor from traveling.
For the governor to get to his hometown to exercise his franchise he had to pass through Geidam and he was advised by his security to forget about voting.
Abdullahi Bego, the spokesman of the governor confirmed the development to journalists in Damaturu, saying the situation was under control and voting was going on in the governor’s hometown but added that the governor could not partake in the exercise.
“The security agencies would naturally seek to reinforce and increase security around the governor for him to travel to cast his vote. The increased security around the governor will mean that vital security resources that are needed elsewhere in the state would have to be diverted and allocated to the governor,” the governor’s spokesperson said.
It was gathered that the governor, after consultation with security agencies decided that it was more prudent to make the sacrifice.
“It is better and more useful for the security agents, including soldiers, police, civil defence, DSS, to focus their attention on providing security for the election than devoting large security contingent for the governor to cast his vote,” Bego said.
Gaidam, who is also a senatorial candidate in the election, commended security agencies for their effort to ensure a peaceful and successful election across the State.
Meanwhile, Alhaji MaiMala Buni, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Yobe, said adequate preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies ensured the success of the elections in the state.
The gubernatorial candidate made the observation after casting his vote on Saturday in Damaturu. He said the timely commencement of the elections, adequate provision of election materials and security to the electorate made the election successful.
“The massive turn out of voters was encouraged by the security apparatus put in place and the commitment to the preparations made by INEC.
“The turnout is very impressive and the momentum should be maintained,” he said.