Increasing violence ahead of elections in Nigeria

Markus Gamache, founder of the Gurku Peace Village, is committed to peace in Nigeria.

Markus Gamache, founder of the Gurku Peace Village, was also affected. He recently visited the small town of Madagali in Adamawa state. Shortly after his visit, a group of Boko Haram attacked Madagali. A village near the town had already been the target of an attack by the Islamists at the end of January. Several houses were destroyed and one resident killed.

As Markus Gamache writes in an e-mail, government soldiers repelled the attack on Madagali, killing almost all the militiamen. The danger from Boko Haram is ever present in Adamawa state. Markus Gamache writes that residents of various localities live in constant fear of attack: "I want to thank you for your continuous prayers. Kirchinga, Shuwa, Gubla and some villages like Wagga, Babel, Hyembula are living in fear always."

Elections postponed

The background: General elections should have taken place in Nigeria on Saturday, February 16. A few hours before the start of the elections, however, they were postponed by a week and are to be held again on February 23. A close election is expected between the main opponents, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party and challenger Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

The challenges throughout the country are great. The government's claim that Boko Haram has been defeated has not been borne out. This is evidenced by the attacks in the Lake Chad region. Boko Haram attacks shortly after the turn of the year sent several thousand people fleeing.

Violence is also on the rise in the Middle Belt. In this region, which is becoming steadily drier due to climate change, sedentary farmers and nomadic herders are fighting over fertile land and grazing grounds. In the last year and a half, violent herders have attacked more and more villages and killed residents.

Committed to peaceful coexistence

Mission 21 employees and partners in Nigeria are committed to the peaceful and democratic development of their country. Markus Gamache, for example, continues the interreligious peace work in Gurku and in the city of Jos.

Yakubu Joseph, country coordinator for Mission 21, has registered as an official election observer. He will be on duty in and around Jos. Together with staff from the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC)/Caritas, he will monitor the election process, check the voting results from various polling booths and compare them with the official data.

Mission 21 and its partners have been engaged with JDPC and in particular its offshoot, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team (EPRT) network, through its emergency response and peacebuilding work in Plateau State since mid-2018.

► Interreligious peace work in Nigeria

► Emergency aid and reconstruction in Nigeria

► Radio report by Mathias Waldmeyer, Program Officer Nigeria

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