No fewer than 4,817 petitioners have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to desist from holding elections on Saturdays, which, for them, is a ‘critical day of worship and a date with God.’
The petition, titled “General Elections and the Religious Rights of Seventh-Day Sabbath Keepers in Nigeria,” was started on Thursday by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria on the global change website, change.org.
The church requested that INEC change the election calendar to any day between Monday and Thursday so as to enable them ‘to exercise their rights to freely participate in the election process.’
This is coming less than 48 hours before the presidential and National Assembly elections, which are set to take place on Saturday.
“As a nation, we have managed to live with these differences over the last 58 years. And, like many other nations around the world, we are still striving for unity in diversity, Nigeria being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.
“As responsible citizens, we, therefore, call on all well-meaning Nigerians to join their voice with ours (Sabbath-keepers) in keeping elections away from Saturdays, at least to guarantee the inalienable rights of teaming members of our faith.
“As it is, we consider Saturday a date with God, yet we want to participate in our civic duties as patriotic citizens.
“We believe that in the spirit of fairness, this right should not be denied us,” part of the petition read.
Meanwhile, a group, Nigeria Indigenous Nationalities for Self-Determination, on Thursday, demanded that the Federal Government stopped Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, saying that they could not achieve any meaningful development for the country under the 1999 Constitution presently being used to govern the country.
Addressing a press conference in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, NINAS spokesperson, Dr David Salami, said that no election should be held under the 1999 Constitution.
He said, “For the past 20 years, NINAS has gone out to meet with indigenous nationalities of the Middle Belt, Southern Nigeria (Yoruba), and Lower Niger Congress on modalities to work out the framework to get back their stolen sovereignty that was taken forcefully by successive Nigerian governments starting from July 29, 1966.
“Today, NINAS is speaking; there should be no election under the 1999 Constitution. Going to the polls in 2023 would amount to exponential regrets, one that would surpass the tumultuous eight years synonymous with economic hardship, terrorism, political brigandage, kidnappings, and systemic annihilation,” etc.