The governor of Nigeria’s northeastern state of Gombe has declared a state of emergency and a curfew following an attack by members of the Takfiri Boko Haram militant group.
“Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo has directed that a 24-hour curfew be imposed on Gombe as a result of the security breach in the city,” state spokesman, Ayuba Aluke, said on Saturday.
He added, “By this announcement residents are to remain indoors until further notice as security operatives work to restore law and order in the city.”
The measure came after Boko Haram terrorists overran a checkpoint on the edge of the city of Gombe, located about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja, earlier in the day, and explosions as well as gunfire could be also heard.
Nigerian troops backed by a fighter jet were said to be trying to drive the militants back.
Gombe has previously suffered bomb attacks, but this was the first time Boko Haram militants mounted a full assault on the city.
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed national elections, which had initially been scheduled for February 14, to March 28, due to the mounting wave of attacks by the Takfiri militants in the violence-plagued northeastern region of the country.
The National Security Agency (NSA) and military top brass last week urged election officials to delay the polls, citing security concerns.
Opponents, however, argue that President Goodluck Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) furtively lobbed for the six-week delay out of fear that it was heading for defeat in the forthcoming elections.
Jonathan has stated that there would be no further postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections. He has, however, defended the current extension, saying security forces and law enforcement agencies will now have extra time “to clean up” the three states worst hit by Boko Haram militancy, namely Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” controls large parts of northeastern Nigeria and says its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.
It has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria since the beginning of its operations in 2009, which have left over 13,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced.