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By ICC Nigeria Staff

04/28/2023 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Nigeria is the most populous black nation on the planet earth and has the highest number of voters in Africa. Nigeria’s recent general election was the 7th election held since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, its so-called Fourth Republic. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the election management body. The  Electoral Act 2022  provided for the electronic transmission of results from Nigeria’s 176,974 polling units to improve the integrity of the electoral process and reduce the chances of manipulation.

After the election, INEC and its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, came under criticism from Nigerians, local and foreign observer missions, YIAGA Africa, and others for disregarding its own rules by not transmitting election results in real-time. There is a widespread belief among the opposition Nigerians that INEC’s refusal or inability to transmit the election results in real-time permitted manipulation to favor of the ruling APC candidate. This is the bone of contention and has generated heated arguments between the parties, protests, and reactions from various leaders. The election results are currently being challenged in court.

Bola Tinubu, the winning candidate, won with 37% of the vote, but the election saw only about 27% turnout—among the lowest turnouts in recent history—so Tinubu is set to take office with the backing of less than 10% of registered voters. His mandate is weak at best.

Christian leaders have expressed unhappiness over INEC’s refusal to upload election results in real-time. Reacting to the outcome of the election, Rev. William Okoye, the convener of Christian Leaders expressed his discountenance over the INEC Chairman’s flagrant refusal to abide by the electoral guidelines even when his attention was called, the Daily Post reports. Mark Amaza of YIAGA Africa berated INEC for noncompliance with the highly anticipated electronic transmission of results.

Though the outcome of the presidential election saw the emergence of the ruling APC’s Tinubu, his victory is being challenged. One challenger, Labour’s Peter Obi, has repeatedly called his supporters to remain calm as he has filed his case. Meanwhile, protests have erupted in many states and outside Nigeria, online and physically following the declaration of Tinubu as winner.

There are fears that protests across the country may turn violent if justice is not done. The various protests and calls for the federal government not to swear in the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have made the transition of power on May 29, 2023, uncertain.

Some observers have recalled the violent religious riots and sectarian killings of mostly Christians after Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian, was declared the winner of the 2011 presidential election. He beat out a northern Muslim, Muhammadu Buhari, who succeeded him in office.

The Christian Post reported that about 60 churches were burned and the Human Right Watch also reported that about 800 people—mostly Christians—were attacked and killed during these riots, leaving more than 65,000 people displaced in Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and other northern states. Sadly, the final spark to the violence was a comment made by Buhari.

Many Christians are now afraid of what might follow the 2023 presidential election against the backdrop of the 2011 riots, today’s rampant insecurity, and growing Christian persecution by Islamic extremists in Nigeria, especially in the northern areas.

Religious and political leaders have a role to play in maintaining peace during the post-election period. Religious leaders must preach peace and unity to the country and warn members to desist from inflammatory comments. Politicians should place the unity and peace of the country above personal interest by avoiding inciting comments. Those who stir up violence should be arrested and brought to justice to serve as deterrents to those who may want to sow violence. The election tribunals should do justice to the election petitions before them to avoid any breakdown of law and order.

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