The Federal Government has uncovered a plot by Boko Haram to use female suicide bombers to attack voting centres during the forthcoming general elections. It said at a press conference yesterday in Abuja that it had intelligence reports that Boko Haram had concluded plans to obtain, buy or steal Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) of female voters, with a view to surrendering them to female suicide bombers who will blow themselves up at polling centres.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC) and Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, at the press briefing, said in view of the intelligence report, the Federal Government was calling for vigilance among the electorate during the elections. The report came just as Boko Haram killed 90 people and injured 500 others during a clash with Cameroonian soldiers at a border town near Nigeria.
“Recent intelligence reports indicate that some unscrupulous Nigerians have perfected plans to surreptitiously collect, buy or steal the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) of female voters, hand over same to female suicide bombers and create access for them into polling centres where they will detonate bombs and kill unsuspecting voters.
“By this information, therefore, Nigerians, especially female voters, are warned to remain vigilant and also jealously guard and preserve their PVCs to avoid the possibility of their being lost to these bad elements who will put them to untoward uses,” Omeri stated. Yesterday’s alarm was the second by the Federal Government in one week on plots by Boko Haram to disrupt the elections.
Last week, it had warned of plots by Boko Haram to use itinerant shoemakers and livestock to attack crowded places such as churches, mosques, markets and campaign rallies. Despite the efforts to tame it, Boko Haram has sustained its attack on border towns as it killed about 90 civilians and wounded 500 in ongoing fighting in a Cameroonian border town near Nigeria. Some 800 Islamic extremists attacking the town of Fotokol have “burned churches, mosques and villages and slaughtered youth who resisted joining them to fight Cameroonian forces,” the country’s Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakari, said yesterday.
The insurgents from Nigeria also looted livestock and food in the fighting that began Wednesday and was continuing yesterday, Bakari told The Associated Press (AP). Boko Haram is using civilians as shields, making it difficult to confront them although reinforcements have arrived in Fotokol, according to military spokesman, Col. Didier Badjeck. Hundreds of insurgents were killed Wednesday compared to the loss of 13 Chadian and 6 Cameroonian troops, Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo said.
At least 91 civilians have been killed and more than 500 wounded people cannot be immediately taken to the hospitals, he said. The fighters are believed to have crossed into Cameroon from nearby Gamboru, a Nigerian border town that had been an extremist stronghold since November. Gamboru was retaken earlier this week and the fighters driven out by Chadian and Nigerian air strikes supported by Chadian ground troops.
Also yesterday, France’s President Francois Hollande said his country would provide support with weapons, logistics and operations for the multinational effort. He said at a news conference in Paris that his country was also providing logistical and operation support, including by delivering fuel and munitions to countries fighting Boko Haram. However, he said France could not be expected to get involved in every crisis around the world and accused other major powers of inaction in Africa.
“This is a message to the international community and the biggest countries. Do your work! Stop giving lessons and take action!” Hollande said. “In Africa, we have to help the Africans a lot more to fight terrorism, because if we do not then other countries will be destabilised,” he said. France has also sent military advisers to Niger’s southern border with Nigeria to help coordinate military action by regional powers fighting the Islamist group Boko Haram, a French army official said on yesterday.
The deployment was announced as warplanes pounded Boko Haram positions just over the border in Nigeria, a resident in the Niger town of Bosso said, and hundreds of Chadian troops massed at the frontier to prepare an attack. A French army official told Reuters a detachment of about 10 military personnel had been stationed in Diffa at the request of Niger, its former colony. “It is there to coordinate the armies on the ground in the fight against Boko Haram,” the official said. A source close to the Niger government said the parliament in Niamey would vote Monday to send its troops to Nigeria.
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