The Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) strongly urges the Nigerian government to create an atmosphere free of fear, coercion and violence before, during, and after the upcoming presidential election on Saturday, March 28, 2015 and the subsequent state and local elections.
We applaud that President Jonathan and General Buhari have publicly taken such a clear stance for a peaceful election and against any kind of violence associated with the elections. We urge all candidates and party leaders at the federal and state levels to ensure that their supporters, especially youth, desist from inciting or engaging in any form of violence before and during elections or after the ballots are cast and counted. We call on religious leaders of all persuasions to refrain from any form of incendiary remarks and to strongly persuade their members to refrain from provoking or engaging in any kind of violence associated with elections.
Declaring definitively that any challenges to the election’s outcome will be made in the courts, not on the streets, is a positive example we hope all parties will uphold. The Nigerian government also should ensure that law enforcement personnel work to protect the people and facilitate space for voters to exercise their duty as free citizens.
We strongly urge law enforcement personnel to be diligent in upholding the rule of law in cases of infraction and take every care to not engage in human rights violations or act in such a way that is seen to favor one party over another. The Nigerian police in particular should use this opportunity to earn respect and trust by acting like the professional body the Nigerian population deserves.
With these efforts, we look forward to a new chapter in Nigeria’s democratic process: a chapter that is free of the tragic loss of life and wanton destruction of property brought with election violence.