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ICC Note: Christian leaders in Plateau state, Nigeria are celebrating Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration to the presidency of Nigeria, not because he won, but because the election and inauguration proceeded with relatively little violence nationwide, particularly towards Christians. While a few dozen people tragically died from Boko Haram attacks on polling stations in northern Nigeria election weekend March 28, the number pales in comparison to the death toll that mounted after Nigeria’s 2011 presidential poll. After Goodluck Jonathan defeated Buhari then, violent riots resulted in more than 800 people killed and hundreds of churches burned.

6/1/15 Jos, Nigeria (World Watch Monitor) – Muhammadu Buhari will be sworn in today (May 29) as the new President of Nigeria, two months after he became the first opposition leader to win an election.

On March 28, Buhari, a former general, defeated incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by a 54-46 margin – the first time the opposition had won since the re-establishment of the democratic process in 1999.

The previous elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011 were marked by widespread violence across the country.

More than 800 people lost their lives after the 2011 election. Christians paid a heavy price too, with hundreds of places of worship and other properties destroyed.

Ahead of the election, hundreds of people, fearful of election violence in the country’s restive central and northern states, returned to their places of origin, as World Watch Monitor reported.

Thousands of Christians gathered on Sunday (May 24) to celebrate the peaceful outcome. The worshippers gathered at three locations in Jos – the capital of central Plateau State, which has a long history of religious violence – under the aegis of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

“We were all filled with fear and anxiety about the unity of this country and the uncontrollable violence that could be unleashed as a result of the elections. Many had predicted the destabilisation of the country through war, violence and anarchy,” said Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, in his address to the meeting. “Happily, God made things turn out differently.”

In Plateau State in central Nigeria, various events were staged in the run-up to the election, aimed at preventing violence. An “undertaking for peace” was even signed by the governorship candidates at the request of Christian Association of Nigeria leadership.



Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama said Goodluck Jonathan's acceptance of defeat was a 'miracle'.
Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama said Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat was a ‘miracle’.World Watch Monitor

But as the election results were to be announced, the incumbent, Jonathan, called his main challenger, Buhari, to congratulate him – an act that Kaigama called “ ‘The Miracle of March 31,’ when God’s will was allowed to prevail rather than resorting to prolonged legal war or violence.”

“Today we gather here to praise and honour God for answering our prayers for peaceful elections in Nigeria,” he said during the May 24 celebration. “What we are doing here is handing to God our State, our country and our leaders to His blessings.

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