More than a million Nigerians
displaced by the Boko Haram
insurgency in Borno, Yobe and
Adamawa States may not be able to
vote in the February’s general
elections, the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) said
The only condition that will make
them eligible to vote is if the
Electoral Act is amended before the
elections, the electoral agency
Besides, the election results may be
challenged in court if such a large
number of people is disenfranchised.
The National Assembly returns to
plenary today after a vacation to
enable members attend party
congresses where candidates were
picked for all states and local
“Unless the act is amended, the IDPs
(internally displaced persons) issue
could expose the election to legal
challenges by the losing party,” INEC
spokesman Kayode Idowu, was
quoted by Reuters as saying.
Idowu added: “INEC is hoping that
some amendment will happen to
the legal framework to make it
feasible for IDPs to vote,” Idowu said.
INEC is in the process of identifying
displaced persons camps and
counting the number of people
potentially excluded, Idowu said.
Many of the displaced are in small
groups scattered across the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan of the
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will
be challenged by Gen. Muhammadu
Buhari of the All Progressives
Congress (APC) in the elections
which is expected to be the first real
test of the PDP’s strength. The PDP
has been ruling the country since
the return to democracy in 1999.
The fragmented opposition came
together to form the APC.
Two of the states under a state of
emergency – Borno and Yobe – as a
result of the insurgency and where
people are displaced, are controlled
by the APC. Adamawa State is
controlled by the PDP.
Maiduguri, the Borno State capital is
believed to be harbouring almost a
million displaced people. About 20
local government areas in the state
are controlled by the insurgents.
The insurgency could also mean
some local government areas in
three northeastern states may be
prevented from holding the ballot if
the army deems it too dangerous,
Thousands of people have been
killed. Bombs, ambushes and raids
on towns occur on a near-daily basis
in the region.
The United States Council for Foreign
Relations estimates that about
10,340 violent deaths between
November 2013 and November 2014
were linked to Boko Haram-related
Also yesterday in Abuja, the United
Nations Office for West Africa
(UNOWA), said no fewer than 700,000
Nigerians were displaced by the
Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the
Special Representative of the
Secretary General of the UN for West
Africa, spoke at the 46th Ordinary
Session of the ECOWAS Authority of
Heads of State and Government
Chambas, who put the number of
refugees and returnees in Chad,
Cameroon, and Niger at about
142,000 persons urged all parties
concerned to intensify efforts at
ensuring the objectives of the
Millennium Development Goals
“The Boko Haram insurgency
continues to create mayhem as
innocent civilian populations are
being killed and entire communities
are living under very challenging
“The regional dimension of this
violent extremism is more than ever
“The number of refugees and
returnees in Chad, Cameroon, and
Niger is estimated at about 142,000
“In Nigeria Internally Displaced
Persons are estimated to be about
“Efforts need to be stepped up to
globally and comprehensively
combat the insurgency.
“The issue of youth unemployment
needs to be urgently addressed and
the attainment of the objectives of
the MDGs which has been shadowed
by the many security challenges
we’re facing, not only on the African
continent but the entire world,
needs to be refocused.
“The nexus between peace, security
and development cannot be
overemphasised,“ he said.
The UN representative also
commended ECOWAS for restoring
political stability in Burkina Faso.
He said: “UN will remain actively
engaged jointly with ECOWAS to
prepare for transparent, free, and fair
elections that will mark the end of
the transition period in 2015.
“Events in Burkina Faso should be
viewed as a call for improved
governance and especially
participative democracy which
allows the driving force in our
Chambas also called for concerted
efforts at ensuring violent-free
elections in member-states
preparing to hold elections in 2015.
Such countries include Nigeria,
Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinea, and Cote
He also called for coordinated efforts
at stopping the spread of the Ebola
virus and reiterated the UN’s
continued support in the
implementation of developed
In his address, the President of the
ECOWAS Commission, Amb. Kadre
Ouedraogo, said the combined
efforts of ECOWAS and the
international community had led to
the development of mechanisms to
tackle the scourge.