16 February 2013

Nigeria: Sabbath Church Wants Elections Moved From Saturdays

The members of Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), Nigeria, would like the National Assembly not to fix general elections on Saturdays, a leading member of the church said.

The President, Eastern Nigeria Mission of SDA, Bassey Udoh, expressed the view in an interview in Umuahia on Saturday.

He said elections should be fixed on public holidays as done in most advanced countries of the world to give Sabbath worshippers equal opportunity to participate during national elections.

"Election is a very important event that in developed countries, public holidays are declared for elections and if the Nigerian Government sees election as important event, public holidays should be declared for days of major elections.

"Our reason is that we have never seen elections fixed on Friday and Sunday because government has taken cognisance of Muslims and Sunday Christian worshippers.

"It is for the above reason that we the members of SDA and other Sabbath keepers are saying that our right to vote and to be voted for should be respected and that elections should not be fixed on Saturdays," he said.

Mr. Udoh also said that more than five million Sabbath worshippers would be disenfranchised if elections were fixed on Saturdays.

"We are not trying to impose our religious belief on Nigerians but we are simply trying to stress the need for the constitutional right of our members and our urge to discharge our civic duties. There is the provision for the Fundamental Rights of Citizens; that is the right to worship and that should be respected.

"We are calling on government to look at the constitution in considering the issue of election date," he said.

Mr. Udoh said the church's position was not a directive on the government but a demonstration of interest of members of the church to vote and be voted for during elections.

He said Sabbath worshippers had submitted a position paper to members of the National Assembly on the matter.


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