The United Nations has urged the Nigerian government to ensure the sanctity of new dates for its general elections, amid increasing concerns the government may yet again move the crucial polls from March 28 and April 11.
The general elections were shifted from February 14 and 28 by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over security fears.
Many Nigerians and the international community have urged the government to ensure the polls are not shifted the second time. The main opposition, All Progressives Congress, APC, says the government instigated the first shift to avoid the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan at the polls.
In a statement Friday, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, “strongly” urged the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to respect the new dates and ensure there are no further shifts.
“Following the postponement of general elections in Nigeria to 28 March and 11 April, the Secretary-General strongly urges the Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure these new dates are maintained, in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution,” a statement by the world body said.
Mr. Ban’s statement came days after the head of INEC, Attahiru Jega, told Nigerian Senators he could not commit to the sanctity of the new dates for the elections, saying that was outside the powers of the electoral body.
Speaking Thursday, President Goodluck Jonathan said the elections will hold as scheduled by INEC.
The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban, welcomed the president’s commitment to the new calendar.
He commended the progress made by INEC in the preparation for the elections, including the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards.
He urged all relevant national institutions to continue to work with INEC to ensure all voters can exercise their constitutional right to participate in the elections freely and without intimidation.
The Secretary-General expressed strong concern over reports of election-related violence.
He urged all political leaders to adhere to their commitments under the Abuja Accord, to refrain from inflammatory statements and to immediately condemn any statements from their supporters that amount to an incitement to violence or subversion of the electoral process.
The Secretary-General reiterated to Nigerians that the United Nations will be closely following developments and is offering its full support to Nigeria at this important moment.