Religious leaders under the auspices of Interfaith Citizen Observers Network are calling for Non-violent elections across the nation this year.
Rising from a day-long conference organized by the Strength In Diversity Development Center (SDDC), Nigeria, held on Thursday, January 24, 2019 in Lagos, over 120 religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian faiths as well as Traditional institutions resolved that all Nigerians must work towards non-violent elections in February and March, 2019.
The religious leader also agreed on the following measures to foster peaceful elections: special prayer sessions, national rallies prohibiting hate speeches in religious centers and urging all Nigerians to not sell their votes and instead vote based on issues.
Accordingly, the participating religious leaders outlined the following activities of action to take place beginning on February 8th:
It was resolved that inter-religious and interdenominational nationwide prayers will be held one week before the election.
Specifically, Muslims will commence on Friday, February 8th with special prayers and sermon dedicated to violence free elections, while the Christian denominations will offer similar prayers and sermons on Sunday, February10th.
Marches or rallies to boost awareness of need for non-violent election will be scheduled for February 9th. The participating religious community is calling on all forms of media, print and electronic media to disseminate news of the rallies and the messages that will be delivered within them.
In order to curb hate speeches and any incitement to violence, during and after the elections, the Men of God were unanimous in calling for both the print and electronic media to make a thorough effort to check their stories for the presence of “fake news.”
In addition, according to the conference, conscious efforts are required to sensitize Nigerians to the effects of vote buying. “Our people should be educated about the adverse affect of vote buying and there must be a penalty for such acts (directed at both the seller and buyer). The punishment must be enforced as well”, according to the religious leaders.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC was urged by the conference to ensure a credible election through the enforcement of electoral laws in order to promote orderliness, discipline, and respect during and after the elections.
The conference was attended by notable religious leaders across Nigeria including Imam Shefiu, Abdulkareem Majemu (convener), Bishop Emma Gospel Isong (co-convener), HRH Sarakin Muhammed Bambado (Sarakin Fulani of Lagos), Imam Abdulazeez Onike (NASFAT), Apostle Ojei Uloma (Faith Giant Fellowship), Bishop Mathew Daniel (Elohim Faith Assembly), Sheikh Abdulrahmon Ahmad (ANSARU-DEEN), Imam Fuad Adeyemi (Alhabibiyyah), Bishop Adekoya Wale (PFN), Helen Raji (RCCG), Pastor Gabriel Oshoma (Faith and Promises Goshen), Sheikh Abdulrahman Sulaiman Adangba (Wikayatd-Dua Intuition Centre), among others. The event was anchored by Sulayman Aladeh.