The Nigerian government moved to postpone its presidential and legislative elections on account of the Boko Haram threat in the northeastern region of the country.
The elections, originally scheduled for Saturday, February 14, will be postponed for six weeks to allow the newly formed multi-national force to secure the areas around Maiduguri in Borno State, the Associated Press reported.
Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state, has reportedly been surrounded by the militants for weeks now. The insurgents have launched three attacks in an attempt to take the city, although a local priest told ACN that he believes the group is launching the attacks to stockpile weapons in preparation for a massive attack on the city.
An unnamed government official told the Associated Press on Saturday that millions in the northeastern region of Nigeria could be deprived of the right to vote, as Boko Haram may launch attacks on February 14 to disrupt the peace process.
Politician Bashir Yusuf also told reporters that, according to the national security advisor of Nigeria, the military will be "unable to provide adequate security for the elections" in the beleaguered city, because a bulk of its forces are committed to the multi-national operations against the Islamic extremist group in several areas in the northeast.
Nigeria and its neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad basin have recently agreed to form a multinational force to combat the escalation of the Boko Haram threat. Based in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena, the force will be composed of 3,500 soldiers each from Chad and Nigeria, 750 troops from Niger and Cameroon and 250 from Benin, bringing the total number of forces to 8,750. This deployment plan was finalised in a meeting over the weekend that was also attended by an African Union advisor.
Air and ground forces from Chad and Nigeria have already carried offensives against Boko Haram in the northeastern border towns of Nigeria for the past 10 days.