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Cablegate: Religious and Labor Groups Speak Out On 4/14

VZCZCXRO0843
PP RUEHMA
DE RUEHUJA #0747/01 1091540
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191540Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9234
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0257
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0253
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 6636
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000747

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL, AF/W
DOL FOR SUDHA DALEY
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ELAB NI ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: RELIGIOUS AND LABOR GROUPS SPEAK OUT ON 4/14
ELECTIONS

REF: ABUJA 725 AND PREVIOUS

ABUJA 00000747 001.2 OF 002


THIS MESSAGE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Strong public statements were issued on
April 17 by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and on April
18 jointly by the two predominant Muslim and Christian
organizations (the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic
Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria
(CAN)). Both statements urge the GoN to reverse unfair
decisions in the April 14 state elections and to take steps
necessary to ensure improvements before the April 21
Presidential and National Assembly elections. As well, both
statements applaud the independence of the Supreme Court in
issuing its April 16 judgment against INEC's disqualification
of candidates and the professionalism of the media. Both
include an appeal to Nigerians to use peaceful means to
defend their right to vote, with the NLC statement calling on
Nigerians to peacefully protest. As well, the NLC statement
includes a firm warning to the GoN that a repeat of April 14
problems "may spell doom for the country." END SUMMARY.

The NLC Statement
-----------------

2. (SBU) In a strong public statement issued April 17, the
NLC called the "manipulation and massive electoral fraud" of
April 14 a "source of major national crisis," claiming the
state elections will be remembered as the most massively
rigged in Nigerian history. The statement explicitly states
that the NLC "considers the April 14 elections not/not to
have been free and fair." It calls on the GoN and INEC to
reverse "all decisions that have upturned the will of the
people" and demands redress in all cases of rigging and
injustice. "Clear manipulations and fraud" are noted in
Anambra, Adamawa, Edo, Enugu, Delta, Kogi, Imo and Ondo
states. The NLC places blame for the failure of the
elections on the Presidency, INEC, Army, SSS and police.

3. (SBU) The NLC statement calls on the Nigerian people to
use "all peaceful means at their disposal, including
protests, to defend their votes and protect their mandate."
In urging the GoN to ensure that all eligible candidates are
on the April 21 ballot, the statement explicitly "warns" that
attempts to repeat the problems of April 14 will "spell doom
for the country." It praises the independence of the
judiciary and, in particular, the April 16th Supreme Court
decision that INEC cannot disqualify candidates, and urges
the judiciary to remain steadfast in dispensing with all
electoral cases. As well, the statement thanks the media for
its forthrightness and professionalism.

The Joint Muslim/Christian Statement
------------------------------------

4. (SBU) In a joint statement titled "A Betrayed Trust,"
NSCIA and CAN expressed their displeasure with what they
termed "INEC's cocktail of misrepresentation." Citing
"massive subversion of the people's will through a
collaboration of agents of state and gangs masquerading as
the ruling party," the two organizations called for the
reversal of results in ten states: Anambra, Adamawa, Edo,
Enugu, Delta, Ondo, Rivers, Imo, Kogi, and Nasarawa. They
noted that the experiences of 1983 and 2003 were "replayed
with more impunity displayed." The two religious
organizations described the two most disturbing problems as
the absence of a credible voters register and the scarcity of
results tally sheets. In previous elections, they note, the
tally sheets have been the central evidence for those seeking
redress in election tribunals. Despite the lack of tally
sheets for some polling stations, the two groups maintain
these same sheets "surfaced at collation centers and INEC
state headquarters respectively at the close of the day's
polls."


ABUJA 00000747 002.2 OF 002


5. (SBU) While noting that in some areas the police and
security personnel were friendly and attentive, the NSCIA and
CAN also noted a high level of "raw and naked force" designed
to intimidate voters. They applauded the mass media for its
patriotism and professionalism, as well as the Supreme Court
for its independence in delivering its April 16 decision on
INEC's disqualification of candidates. The statement calls
on NSCIA and CAN followers to "be steadfast in the discharge
of their civic responsibility by voting in Saturday's
national elections while eternal vigilance must be sustained
to ensure their mandate is not so crudely and primitively
taken away."

6. (SBU) COMMENT. These two public statements reflect the
high level of frustration with the April 14 polls. Despite a
nationwide ban on protests, the NLC statement explicitly
calls for protests and both documents call on Nigerians to
defend their vote and their mandate. How much momentum these
calls pick up and what the reaction of the Nigerian people
will be to Saturday's national elections will depend to a
great extent on public perceptions of the level of rigging.
If improvements are not seen between the April 14 and the
April 21 elections, we can expect even stronger statements
after April 21 and possibly action on the part of Nigerians.
Whether that action will continue in the form of the serious,
sporadic violence experienced thus far, or escalate into
something more remains to be seen. END COMMENT.
CAMPBELL

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