Elections to decide the future government in Nigeria have been postponed for six weeks, after warnings security agencies that extremist group Boko Haram are planning on ramping up activities and attacks.
Boko Haram fighters have been very active recently, not only attacking towns in northern Nigeria, but also in Niger and Cameroon. At the end of January, they took Monguno, 86 miles north of the Borno State capital Maiduguri. The army was overwhelmed and houses set on fire. A little later they attacked Maiduguri itself. Open Doors field staff received calls from Christians hiding in churches as the attack started, asking for prayer.
Although the Nigerian military repelled the attack, the city – which already hosts thousands of displaced refugees – remains at great risk.
The election was due to take place on 14 February, but will now happen on 28 March. Along with the security situation, it is claimed that only 66 percent of the people had picked up their voters cards which entitle them to vote.
The delay increases the tension around the election, which sees the current president Goodluck Jonathan – a Christian presidential candidate from the south – pitted against Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim candidate from the north.
After the 2010 election there was three days of rioting in the twelve northern states, and more than 800 people killed. Nigerian Christians have been praying that the election result will not lead to further division and violence.
“Many Christians in the north are very nervous about the aftermath of these elections,” said an Open Doors staff member who recently visited Nigeria. “Please pray for their safety.”
Some suspect that the move is more motivated by politics than security. “They say they need six weeks to defeat Boko Haram. Boko Haram has been growing for six years,” said Jibrin Ibrahim from The Centre for Democracy and Development. “If in six weeks Boko Haram has not been defeated, they could call for another delay and ultimately destroy Nigerian democracy.”
Source: Open Doors; BBC; Reuters
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