We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sunday Alamba/AP

Jonathan appeals for calm after being declared Nigerian winner

Re-elected president Goodluck Jonathan asks citizens to find common ground, after riots break out over his victory.

NIGERIA’S RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has appealed for calm in his country, following a series of riots which marred his election victory yesterday.

Jonathan was declared the official winner of the presidental election yesterday, having won enough support to avoid a run-off ballot, triggering riots across the Muslim north – leaving buildings ablaze and people hiding in their homes, highlighting the religious and ethnic tensions still dividing Africa’s most populous nation.

The violence cut across 13 states, hundreds wounded. Heavy gunfire echoed through cities, as shouting crowds burned tires and threw stones at security forces. Many were feared dead, though federal officials declined to offer any figures for fear of further stoking tensions.

In a televised address to the nation last last night as conflicts continued, Jonathan called on Nigerians to “quickly move away from partisan battlegrounds and find a national common ground.”

“Nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”

While Christians and Muslims have shared the same soil in the nation for centuries, the election result showing the Christian president’s more than 10 million vote lead over Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari spread accusations of rigging in a nation long accustomed to ballot box stuffing.

Jonathan took office last year only after the country’s elected Muslim president died from a lengthy illness before his term ended, and many in the north still believe the ruling party should have put up a Muslim candidate instead in this year’s election.

“The damage is immense. A lot of buildings have been torched: houses, businesses and religious centers,” said Umar Mairiga of the Nigerian Red Cross. More than 270 people had been wounded and some 15,000 had been displaced by the violence, he said.

Nigeria has a long history of violent and rigged polls since it abandoned a revolving door of military rulers and embraced democracy 12 years ago.

Legislative elections earlier this month left a hotel ablaze, a politician dead and a polling station and a vote-counting center bombed in the nation’s northeast. However, observers largely said Saturday’s presidential election appeared to be fair, with fewer cases of ballot box thefts than previous polls.

Election chairman Attahiru Jega announced results Monday night that showed Jonathan won 22.4 million votes, compared to the 12.2 million votes of his nearest rival, the former military ruler Buhari. Jonathan also received enough votes across Nigeria’s 36 states and capital to avoid triggering a runoff.

The West African nation of 150 million people is divided between a Christian-dominated south and the Muslim north.