Jul 30, 2002

MOSOP reacting to deterioration of democracy in Nigeria

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), in a press release dated 14 March 2002, expressed urgent reservations and fears that the state of democracy in Nigeria is showing signs of paralleling the abuses that have recently been observed in Zimbabwe.

This conclusion is based on the unexplained sacking of 33 of the 36 state electoral commissioners in Nigeria during February 2002. Furthermore, the National Assembly debated a possible amendment to the country’s electoral act, following a highly controversial and last minute insertion into the Act aiming at effectively barring new political parties from contesting senior positions in the upcoming national elections in 2003. Reacting to the outcome of a recent by-election in Khana II, MOSOP stated that this election reflected the same level of fraud, violence and intimidation, which characterise many of those held in 1999. MOSOP was accredited by the national election commission (INEC) to monitor the Khana II by-election. One example was that votes occurred for a candidate that did not even appear on the ballot paper, as well as a massive turnout (close to 100%), which bore no resemblance to observed participation of close to a non-event.

The MOSOP leadership called upon Nigerians to wake up and assert their rights to democratic government before the prospects slip away entirely. “Like those in Zimbabwe, our people do want the right to turn out and vote and feel that their wishes will be respected. We are calling on those at the national and international level to make it clear to our leaders that Nigeria must choose whether it wishes to become a true democratic country or a fraudulent “dictator-ship” like that we see emerging in Zimbabwe today.”

The UNPO intends to closely follow the run-up to next year’s elections in Nigeria, and hopes to enter into discussion with the Nigerian Embassy in The Hague to obtain more information on the state of democracy in the country.