Suspected terrorists attack Nigerian towns hours before poll starts

Despite assurances of security of voters ahead of the presidential election in Nigeria, suspected terrorists attacked two northeastern Nigerian towns in the early hours of Saturday making would-be voters scamper for safety.

“We have fled, along with our wives and children and hundreds of others. We are right now running and hiding in the bushes,” Reuters quoted Ibrahim Gobi, who lives in Geidam, a town in Yobe state, to have said by telephone.

Some residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital also claimed to have heard nearly a dozen explosions in the city. Reuters reports that a witness confirmed the explosions. But an Al Jazeera correspondent in Maiduguri, while confirming the explosions, said it “has not deterred some of the voters who are eager to cast their ballots in the election”.

“This morning we woke up to the sound of explosions here in Maiduguri, some are talking about at least a dozen explosions, said Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris. However, he added that “since the break of dawn, people were on the road, trying to access polling stations, trying to exercise their rights as citizens of this country.

“But of course the delay has discouraged at least some people who had to travel long distances,” Idris said, referring to the postponement of the poll which was earlier scheduled for last Saturday but was suspended hours to the commencement of voting.

On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari, whose re-election bid is threatened by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar promised voters adequate security, dismissing reports of possible attacks.

“Do not be afraid of rumours of violence and unrest. Our security agencies have worked diligently to ensure that adequate security measures are in place,” he said.

Security was one of Buhari’s campaign promises ahead of the 2015 poll which he won. However, his government has performed below expectation in this regard. He once claim a “technical defeat” of Islamist group Boko Haram which has been terrorising Northeast Nigeria, but that turned out to be premature as an offshoot of the terror group , the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in West Africa Province, has carried out several attacks ever since.

Although, his failed campaign promises is the reason some Nigerians want to vote him out, President Buhari still enjoys massive support in the region hard hit by Boko Haram’s murderous campaign.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Police has explained that sounds heard in Maiduguri were of heavy gunfire. According to Edet Okon, the public relations officer of the Borno State Command of the Nigerian Police, the gunfire was for security purpose.

“The gunfire were not targeted at members of the public but was for security purpose,” Okon said in a statement.