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Nigeria’s presidential election has come in for scathing criticism from the international media and has provoked warnings from Release International’s partners.

The Financial Times describes the election as ‘badly mismanaged’ raising ‘legitimate concerns of vote tampering’.

The FT and others note that voting started late in many districts, resulting in thousands being turned away from the ballot.

They also report violence: ‘Party goons invaded many polling stations in what appeared to be blatant acts of intimidation.’ A source for the FT witnessed armed men remove a ballot box in Lagos.

Google election screengrab

The election returned Bola Tinubu of the ruling party with 37 per cent of the vote, in an election with the lowest recorded turnout since the end of military rule in 1999. As a result of the election Nigeria now has a Muslim president and vice president, leaving many Christians feeling vulnerable and disenfranchised.

‘With a Muslim president and Muslim vice president in power, Christians can expect the worst of persecutions, as found in Islamic states all over the world.’

There are many complaints in the Nigerian media of vote-rigging. Release International’s partners warn: ‘If the law will not handle the alleged election abnormalities, that will mean another autocratic regime in place for Nigeria.

More Christians are killed in Nigeria by terrorists and jihadists than in the rest of the world put together.

Prior to the election, Release International partner, the Anglican Archbishop of Jos Benjamin Kwashi said the new government must make its first priority the security of citizens who are under attack from extremists.

Archbishop Ben Kwashi in conversation with Paul Robinson. Picture Andrew Boyd Release International 1 scaled
Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi in conversation with Release International CEO Paul Robinson. Picture Andrew Boyd

Unless the new government took decisive action, he warned: ‘Christians will leave the country in droves. They will not wait for the persecution that will happen.’

He added: ‘The first and foremost priority [of the new government], before God and humanity, is to try and secure the lives of poor people being killed by terrorists. The test of any leadership is how it cares for and supports its poor. Any leadership that cannot care for the poor, is not worthy of that position, not by God, nor by man.’

In its own coverage, the FT points to elections being overturned in Kenya in 2017 and Malawi in 2020. And should the outcome of these elections be brought before the courts, it urges Nigeria’s judiciary to ‘not shrink from annulling individual contests or even the whole result.’

Financial Times 1.3.23

Finally, echoing the concerns of Release International, the FT warns: ‘Nigeria has been teetering on the edge of catastrophe, with a breakdown of security… By 2050, Nigeria will have 400 million people. They cannot be left without hope.’

Nigeria features in the latest Persecution Report by Release international, which highlights the insecurity of Christians under attack by heavily armed militants. You can watch Persecution Report below.

Source: Financial Times 1.3.23

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