CSW UK and CSW Nigeria will be hosting coordinated prayer events in London and in Kaduna respectively on 12 February, in advance of the Nigerian general election on 16 February.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “As Nigeria prepares for Saturday’s general election, we are urging Christians everywhere to unite in prayer for the country. We believe in the power of prayer to bring change, and encourage Christians to join us in praying that the general public will be able to go out and vote without fear of insecurity and intimidation and that the electoral process, from start to finish, will be fair and free from violence.”
The Nigeria Day of Prayer will take place on Tuesday 12 February at ECWA Gospel Church Green Roof Barnawa in Kaduna state from 3pm, and between 7-9pm at St Michaels Chester Square SW1W 9EF, in London.
Several developments have given rise to concerns regarding the integrity of the electoral process, including the harassment of political opponents; the extended detention of prominent activist and convener of the Concerned Nigerians group, Deji Adeyanju, on a murder charge for which he was acquitted in 2014; the suspension of the country’s chief justice in a possible violation of the constitution three weeks before the elections, and consistent reports of delays in issuing voter cards in several states.
Moreover, video has emerged of would-be voters being assaulted by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force wielding sticks and whips in Barnawa, Kaduna, and being teargassed in Ikorodu, Lagos by Mobile Police after waiting for several hours to collect their cards ahead of the 8 February deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The deadline for collection was subsequently extended to 11 February.
The election is also taking place against a backdrop of increasing insecurity on multiple fronts. According to the INEC chairperson, the number of states experiencing security challenges has risen from three to 15 since the 2015 elections.
A seemingly resurgent Boko Haram is terrorising civilians in the north-east, overrunning army bases and inflicting unprecedented casualties on the military. The rising violence has displaced over 59,000 civilians in the last three months, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
In the north-western states of Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina, armed kidnappers, who are increasingly suspected to contain terrorist elements, murdered 120 people in January alone, and are conducting attacks on an almost daily basis. On 4 February, 14 people were murdered in Tudun Wadar Maijatau, Takoka and Ruwan Bore villages in Zamfara, including Hajiyya Ade Marafa, sister of the senator for Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa. Her husband was kidnapped for ransom.
In addition, farming communities in Benue, southern Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba states continue to experience cyclical attacks by the Fulani militia. In December 2018, 15 persons were killed and 17 were injured during an attack on Ungwan Pa’ah Gwandara village in the Godogodo Chiefdom of Jema’a Local Government Area (LGA) of southern Kaduna. In mid-January, three people were shot dead in Gwong Chiefdom of Jema’a LGA. More recently, on 2 February, the wife of the pastor of Bege Baptist Church Sasayi Kidunu was murdered in her home in Chikun LGA, southern Kaduna, and on 7 February reports emerged indicating the Gwagwada community in the Chikun LGA was under siege. According to local sources five students were kidnapped on their way to school along with several other civilians, and Gwagwada town and eight villages were more or less deserted after their inhabitants fled assailants who were able to ‘attack at will.’
Notes to Editors:
1. London Event details:
Date: Tuesday 12 February,
Time: 7 pm
Venue: St Michael’s Chester Square, SW1W 9EF
2. Kaduna Event details
Date: Tuesday 12 February
Venue: ECWA Gospel Church Green Roof Barnawa