Nigeria's bishops join critics of presidential poll

The head of Nigeria's bishops conference, Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job, has joined human rights groups in denouncing the recent violence-marred presidential elections.

Angola Press reports that the US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch yesterday criticised the election for its late start, the shortage of ballot papers, widespread voter intimidation, the seizure of ballot boxes by thugs and vote buying.

"Instead of guaranteeing citizens basic right to vote freely, the Nigerian government and electoral officials actively colluded in the fraud and violence," the group's Africa director Peter Takirambudde said in a statement.

"In other areas, officials closed their eyes to human rights abuses committed by supporters of the ruling party and others," Mr Takirambudde said.

His remarks echoed those of Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job, the head of Nigeria's Catholic Bishops Conference, which represents some 30 million believers - or one out of five people in Africa's most populous nation of 140 million.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Archbishop Job cited massive fraud and disorganisation, including result sheets being passed around to politicians who simply filled in numbers as they chose while bribed returning electoral officers looked away.

"We have again failed in conducting free, fair and credible elections," the archbishop said.

The European Union, which like former colonial power Britain and the US, was "deeply troubled" by voting irregularities, estimates at least 200 people died in Nigeria's two-stage state, presidential and parliamentary polls on 14 and 21 April.

Nigeria: Catholic church, rights group joins critics of Nigeria poll (Angola Press, 25/4/07)
Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job (Catholic-Hierarchy)

Excommunication for non-voters: Nigerian bishop decrees (CathNews, 17/1/07)

26 Apr 2007

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