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Boko Haram ‘likely to step up attacks during polls’

2015-02-04 10:02

Lagos – Boko Haram militants are likely to step up their attacks to profit from the intense local and global media attention during the upcoming elections, according to South African Institute of International Affairs political analyst, Ola Bello.

Bella told News24 that the Islamist militants were desperate to capture Maiduguri.

"The several failed bids to capture Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, clearly points to this desperate push," said Bello.

Bello's remarks come a few days after a weekend of violence in Maiduguri, which according to reports is the birthplace of Boko Haram.

The violence saw Maiduguri being hit for the second Sunday in a row, but the army, helped by civilian vigilantes, managed to keep the militants at bay.

Insecurity fears

It is widely believed that Maiduguri would be hit again before polling day, given the state's symbolism for the group and because it would undermine the vote, which the Islamist group sees as "un-Islamic".

Bello, however, said the country was ready for elections. This was despite calls from various quarters to have the polls postponed due to insecurity fears.

"Preparation is reasonable across much of the country and elections will likely pass off reasonably well in those places. The swathes of conflict endemic area in the northeast makes it virtually impossible to conduct proper election in those communities," Bello said.

Bello added:  "Nigeria is a vast country. The affected areas are only 3 states out of the 36 states (plus federal capital territory) that make up the polity, hence a relatively small area."

The country goes to vote on 14 February.

Follow Betha Madhomu on Twitter.

Read more on: boko haram  |  elections 2015  |  politics

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