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41 DAYS TO ELECTIONS:13 Local Govts under Boko Haram

With less than 50 days to the start of general elections across the country, the Boko Haram insurgents are still in control of a total…

With less than 50 days to the start of general elections across the country, the Boko Haram insurgents are still in control of a total of 13 local government areas in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
The group is also exercising partial control over parts of at least 10 local government areas in Borno.

Elections would commence in 42 days nationwide on February 14 with the Presidential and National Assembly polls. They would be followed by governorship and states assembly elections on February 2015.
There have been fears that elections may not hold in territories under the control of Boko Haram, sparking increasing calls for the electoral law to be amended to give opportunity to persons who were displaced by the conflict to vote at the various places they are being sheltered.
But Nigeria’s security forces had insisted that all the territories under the insurgents would be liberated to pave way for the electorate to exercise their civic right.
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan had , after picking his party’s ticket to run for reelection last December, promised that elections would be held in all parts of the country, including the restive North-East region.
Checks by Sunday Trust, however, shows that a large size of Nigerian territory is still under the control of Boko Haram, even as the country has less than two months to go to polls
Thousands of residents have fled these areas since the group began capturing territories in August last year. Many others have also been killed.
Nine of the affected local governments are in Borno State and they are: Gwoza, Bama, Mafa, Dikwa, Kala-Balge, Ngala, Marte, Abadam and Mobbar. The other four are Michika and Madagali in Adamawa State, as well as Gujba and Gulani in Yobe State.
The insurgents have also established partial control in parts of some local government areas in Borno, comprising Mungono, Kukawa, Guzamala, Gubio, Magumeri, Damboa, konduga, Chibok, Askira Uba and Jere.
Before the outright takeover of many communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, the Boko Haram had earlier caused collateral damage in various places where they destroyed entire villages, markets, military barracks, police stations, governmental buildings, prisons, farmlands and other symbols of authority and worship places, including churches and mosques,.
But the notoriety of the group climaxed on August 23, 2014 when its leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared Gwoza town in southern Borno as the headquarters of what he called “Islamic Caliphate,” in a move that was a clear affront on Nigeria’s sovereignty. The sect dislodged the entire population of the town and kept it under its firm control.
Since then, the group had intensified its territorial conquest drive, culminating in the total or partial control of at least 20 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno State.
During the last Christmas in December 2014, deputy governor of Borno State, Zannah Umar Mustapha, disclosed that over two million people had been displaced from at least 20 local government areas of the state.
He stated this when he visited Yola, in Adamawa State, to celebrate the Christmas with  some internally displaced persons  (IDPs), who were taking refuge there.  
In August last year, the army recaptured Damboa from the sect members who had earlier overrun it and hoisted its flag.
But attempts by the military to liberate other occupied towns like Bama, Gwoza, Marte and Abadam, among others  did not succeed, paving way for the Boko Haram to continue perpetrating various atrocities, including stoning offenders to death or amputating their hands.
However, in neighbouring Adamawa State troops have succeeded in retaking four out of the six local government areas that were captured by the sect.
Most of the areas had been captured by the insurgents after Nigerian soldiers had reportedly abandoned their positions and fled with civilians, making it easy for the insurgents to take control of the towns.
The militants had seized about one-third of Adamawa, with Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South, Maiha, Hong and Gombi areas firmly under their control before November last year.
But Michika and Madagali are still under Boko Haram, although unconfirmed reports indicate that the military are closing in on Michika after retaking Uba town.
The recent successes recorded by the military in liberating the four local government areas have restored confidence in the minds of the residents about the ability of the troops to win the war against the insurgents.
Within a week, soldiers assisted by local hunters dislodged the insurgents from Gombi, Hong, Maiha and Mubi following fierce battles at different locations that inflicted heavy casualty on the insurgents. Several soldiers were also said to have died.
A source told Sunday Trust that soldiers have set up camps near Michika town after a deadly encounter with insurgents in the area in which dozens of Boko Haram fighters were believed to have been killed.
Attempts to speak to the Deputy Director of Information in the 23rd Armoured Brigade Yola, Colonel Texas Chukwu, were not successful as he did not pick calls from our correspondent or return text message sent to him.

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