News / Africa

Nigeria Names Panel to Investigate Electoral Violence

People holding wooden and metal sticks demonstrate in Nigeria's northern city of Kano where running battles broke out between protesters and soldiers on April 18, 2011 as President Goodluck Jonathan headed for an election win
People holding wooden and metal sticks demonstrate in Nigeria's northern city of Kano where running battles broke out between protesters and soldiers on April 18, 2011 as President Goodluck Jonathan headed for an election win

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has named a 22-member panel to investigate the source of violence during last month's nationwide elections.

President Jonathan says the panel will determine how many people died, the source of the weapons used, what led to the killing, and how to prevent it in the future.

"It is sadly ironical that at a time when we should be celebrating the landmark democratic achievement of the nationally- and internationally-acclaimed 2011 elections, we are faced with the task of confronting the challenge posed by the unprecedented violence which flared up in parts of the country," he said.

A Nigerian civil rights group says at least 500 people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians when supporters of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, fought riot police after Jonathan, a Christian, was declared the winner.

"This unfortunate development was no doubt meant to mar what ought to have been a celebration of the progressive march of our democratic experience. The unimaginable orgy of violence that followed resulted in the deaths of scores of Nigerians, while personal and public properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.” said the president.

Buhari's Congress for Progressive Change party is challenging President Jonathan's election in court.  It alleges that the outcome was rigged by electoral commission computers that both increased Jonathan's vote totals in southern states and decreased Buhari's vote totals in northern states.

President Jonathan says the investigative panel is comprised of distinguished Nigerians with unquestionable integrity, patriotism and commitment to equity and justice.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that they will bring the synergy of their collective experience and demonstrable diligence to bear on this crucial national assignment,” he said.

President Jonathan says he expects the panel to present its findings within six weeks.

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