Muhammadu Buhari Defeats Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria Presidential Election

By Troy Augustine

3/31/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Fulani Muslim Muhammadu Buhari (All Progressive Congress) has unseated Christian incumbent Goodluck Jonathan (People’s Democratic Party) in Nigeria’s presidential election.

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Jonathan called Buhari Tuesday evening, local time, to concede defeat and congratulate Buhari on the victory, according to the BBC. Buhari held a lead of more than 2 million votes. The defeat for Jonathan represents the first time in Nigerian history that a sitting president has been defeated by a challenger and the first opposition victory since the People’s Democratic Party ascended to power in 1999.

“This is a very tense time in Nigeria,” said Emmanuel Ogebe, Special Council to the Peaceful Polls Project Nigeria 2015. “Buhari is not your average Muslim. His statements on Sharia Law in the past are well-documented.”

In 2001, the Washington Times quoted Buhari: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria,” Buhari said. “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.”

While Buhari’s defenders say the quotation only referred to Sharia expansion across Muslim-majority lands in Nigeria’s north, Christians in all of Nigeria’s regions fear Buhari maintains an Islamist agenda.

Followers of Christ in Nigeria’s northern states have faced constant attack from Islamic jihadist militia Boko Haram. Also, Christian farmers in the Middle Belt region are continually targeted by radicalized Muslim Fulani herders with murder and arson of churches.

Friday, March 27, Boko Haram reportedly decapitated 23 bodies after setting fire to the village of Buratai in Borno State, according to CNN. Militants fired at victims as they tried to escape the blazes, killing 25 people.

Local politician Ibrahim Adamu said Boko Haram, “slaughtered their victims like rams and decapitated them. They burned a large part of the village and we are afraid some residents were burnt in the homes because most people had gone to bed when the gunmen struck.”

Witnesses say 32 people were taken to a hospital in nearby Biu with injuries sustained from the raid. Reports remain unclear if the assault intentionally targeted Christians, but the brutal fashion in which the Boko Haram insurgents treated their victims bears all the common marks of the kind of persecution they regularly perpetrate against brothers and sisters in Christ all over northern Nigeria.

Also, Ogebe says Christians who have been displaced by the violence in the north were disenfranchised in this election. “Christians were really impacted and fled from the north,” he said. “There was significantly low Christian turnout in Muslim areas. It is not clear whether this was a genuine representation, or the results were doctored.”

Elsewhere in Nigeria, locals reported two car bombs in Enugu State that detonated without taking casualties, and 14 people died when Boko Haram opened fire on polling stations in northeastern Gombe State, Saturday, March 28.

It remains to be seen whether a Buhari victory will embolden extremist Nigerian Muslims to carry out further attacks on Christians in the name of Jihad, or if the win will bring peace, particularly in the north. Some Jonathan supporters in Nigeria’s southern delta region had threatened to target oil production facilities if the incumbent was defeated, but Ogebe says that type of violence is not the same as Christians being targeted for their faith.

“Christians in Nigeria continue to be the most vulnerable population to violence and persecution. International Christian Concern (ICC) urges supporters to pray for our brothers and sisters in need as persecution remains a part of normal life for Christians who are continually targeted because of their faith,” said Troy Augustine, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa.

Source: International Christian Concern: persecution.org