President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has urged Nigerians to eschew violence and be their brothers’ keepers as they vote in today’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
In a message to Nigerians, in Abuja, Oritsejafor said “the post-election violence of 2011 is still fresh in our memory and we cannot afford another one.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hereby reiterates the need for citizens irrespective of their religious, ethnic and political affiliations to embrace peace and ensure the safety of one another before, during and after the elections.”
He urged the electorate to assist the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring a transparent and credible exercise.
“God instructed in the Holy Bible and Koran that we should be our brother’s keepers. While rights of individuals should be respected, CAN believes that Nigerians must be given their rights to vote for whoever they want.
“We call on Nigerians to vote according to their conscience in line with democratic principles and not through coercion. Our advice is vote and protect your votes but avoid acts of violence that could threaten a credible electoral exercise.
“Nigerians must eschew violence and assist the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure a transparent and credible exercise because democracy does not express itself through violence. If Nigeria must get it right again and replicate the experience of 2011 general elections, we must have confidence in each other.
“Christians and Muslims must resolve to protect each other. We must ensure that Christians are safe in Muslim areas and vice versa. Nobody must be victimized on the basis of religion or ethnicity.
“Everyone must be able to go out and vote for whoever they want; this commitment is necessary. The security agencies must ensure the protection of the lives and properties of citizens.
“Everyday defines who we are and the future of this country is not tied to a particular date. A lot of people have reasoned that the 2015 general election will define the unity and existence of Nigeria. But we say No! Elections will come and go, but Nigeria will remain.
“Those who believe that Nigeria will break will be disappointed because this is our country. We urge the citizenry to take their minds away from the thinking that Nigeria is going to break in 2015,” the CAN President said.