Boko Haram attacks: 44 dead in separate incidents on Nigerian election day
Boko Haram militants have disrupted the presidential and parliamentary election in a spate of attacks in Nigeria. (Image: AFP/File)
The Boko Haram extremists stormed the town of Miringa in the northeastern state of Borno before dawn on Saturday, setting houses ablaze and shooting indiscriminately the residents as they tried to escape the thick smoke covering the area. Twenty-five people died in the attack.
“They had sent messages earlier warning us not to encourage democracy by participating in today's election,” said Mallam Garba Buratai, a Miringa resident who witnessed the act of violence.
Later in the day, another 14 people were killed in attacks against the towns of Biri and Dukku in Gombe State. A legislator from the violence-wracked northeastern Nigerian state, identified as Umaru Ali, was among the dead.
Moreover, two voters were shot dead when yelling Boko Haram militants opened fire at polling stations in the twin Gombe towns of Birin Bolawa and Birin Fulani.
The terrorists also invaded four towns in the northeastern state of Yobe, and fired shots into the air to scare people from voting, according to police.
Also on Saturday, three people, including a soldier, were fatally shot in Nigeria’s southern state of Rivers. Two car bomb explosions also ripped through polling stations in the southeast, but there were no reports of casualties.
Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities have extended the elections until Sunday, on account that ballot papers arrived late or imported card readers failed to recognize the fingerprints of the voters.
The front-runners for Nigeria’s presidential election are incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and the former military chief, Muhammadu Buhari. Jonathan is seeking a second four-year term, while Buhari, who has lost the last three elections, has a realistic chance of winning.
This is while 739 candidates are also vying for a place in Nigeria’s 109-seat Senate and 1,780 seeking election to the 360-seat National Assembly during Saturday’s parliamentary elections.
All this comes at a time when Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” and controls parts of northeastern Nigeria, has vowed to disrupt the polls by violent attacks.
Boko Haram have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria since the beginning of their activities in 2009, which have so far left over 13,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced.