Nigeria will hold presidential, federal parliamentary, and state parliamentary elections on March 28, 2015. The election previously was scheduled for February 14, 2015, but was pushed back due to security concerns in the north-east region of the country. Reports of pre-election violence, combined with rising societal and political tensions, increase the likelihood of religiously-motivated violence around the elections.
In February 2015, USCIRF issued a press release, USCIRF Warns of Potential Religiously-Motivated Violence Around Nigeria’s Upcoming Elections. From the press release:
“Every effort needs to be undertaken to ensure peaceful elections and prevent the use of religion to stir up more violence. The events leading up to and immediately following February 14 are crucial to Nigeria’s long-term stability and status as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society,” USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.
In January 2015, USCIRF issued a factsheet, Religious Freedom and Nigeria’s 2015 Elections. From the factsheet:
“As early as March 2014, interlocutors expressed to USCIRF their concern that politicians were already playing to religious identity politics and that they were expecting violence to break out along religious lines. Several interlocutors told the USCIRF delegation that while a conflict may start as a fight for political power, individuals actually engaged in the violence view it as religious and as necessary to protect their religious community from the other.”
Click below to see USCIRF's January 2015 Factsheet on Nigeria