Nigerian Bishops Promote Democracy

Urge Citizens to Resist Election Fraud

LAGOS, Nigeria, APRIL 29, 2007 ( Nigerians were abused, traumatized and brutalized while exercising their right to vote during recent state and national elections, says the country’s episcopal conference.

Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan made these comments at a press conference Tuesday, in which he reported on the findings of the Justice Development and Peace unit (JDPC) of the Nigerian bishops’ conference.

The unit mobilized 30,000 young men and women to observe the elections, which took place April 14 and 21. The first vote decided the gubernatorial and state assembly, and the second vote decided the presidential and national assembly vote.

Archbishop Job, who is also the president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference, said, “The reports from our observers indicate that we have again failed to successfully transition in a democratic manner through the power of the ballot box from one civilian administration to another.

“The large protests, arson, violence and wanton destruction of lives and property which heralded the announcements of the results of the gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections clearly showed that the results announced did not reflect the voting and wishes of the people.”

“There were indications of blatant rigging and falsification of election results,” he said.

The elections reveal “a humiliating situation where the electorates [were] forced to endorse a civilian coup d’etat,” Archbishop Job explained. “This is a repression of unprecedented proportion visited on the democratic spirit of the Nigerian people.”

“It should be admitted that we can no longer persist in the deceit of styling our country a democracy,” explained the conference president, when “only a handful of the political elite decide the outcome of electoral processes.”

The politicians themselves have “not shown significant respect for the peace and stability of the country,” Archbishop Job said.

Toward democracy

The archbishop continued: “In the absence of a formidable opposition, Nigerians must come together to resist any form of dictatorship, domination and subversion in a constitutional and dignified manner.

“The Church will continue its campaign for the development of the culture of democracy and good governance in the country to ensure transparency and accountability.”

“We will continue to mobilize, sensitize and educate the people on the need for a peaceful, credible, free and fair democracy,” he said.

Archbishop Job concluded: “We call on all persons of good will in the country to stand up against the enemies of the common good in our country.”

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