All Eyes Now On The Judiciary – Catholic Bishops

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In order to address the glaring anomalies that marred the 2023 general elections, Catholic Bishops have pleaded with the judiciary to safeguard Nigeria’s democracy.

At their meeting in Umuahia, Abia State, the Bishops of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province expressed their dissatisfaction over the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) inability to uphold its pledge to conduct a reliable election.

The Bishops requested the Judiciary to intervene to restore order in a statement released following their meeting at the Umuahia Diocesan Secretariat for the sake of Nigeria’s democracy.

The communique reads thus “The hope, at the moment is that the judiciary will rise up to the challenge and rescue our ailing democratic experiment”.

The Bishops accused INEC of colluding with corrupt politicians to compromise the polls.

”Many people had trusted the repeated assurances by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver a credible electoral process, namely, to come up with an impartial standard for screening candidates, to organize the logistics for conducting free and fair elections, to transmit voting results electronically from polling stations in real time, to eliminate cases of ballot stuffing and vote stealing, etc.

“Sadly, the electoral process was riddled by irregularities. INEC and some of the political actors dashed the hopes of our people.

“Consequently, the results of the last elections can hardly be considered as reflecting the overall will of the people, and are still being contested. And this continues to darken the cloud of uncertainty and tension that has enveloped the nation.”

“The ugly sight of our people toiling under excruciating economic conditions is not only frightening but heartbreaking.

”Though the Federal Government has announced a series of “palliative” measures to mitigate the impact of these policies, many Nigerians are still not feeling any relief from their worsening situation.”

“We can no longer close our eyes to the indiscriminate sit-at-home orders in the South-East that have so far disrupted lives, paralyzing economic, educational and commercial activities. In the past we had called on our people to sheathe their swords and come together to agree on the way forward for our region.

“We want to repeat this appeal again with more urgency. The resort to violence can never be condoned, nor can it be expected to bring any lasting solution to the needs of our people. The South-East is extolled as the commercial hub of the nation.

“Unfortunately, traders in the region today are compelled to stay at home on Mondays, usually the busiest day of the week and the most productive for some. Events like traditional weddings, new yam festivals, funerals, Christmas and Easter celebrations, when our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora usually return home to be with their loved one, are now being boycotted, with people prioritizing their security. The damage to our local economies, and to the culture and mental health of our people, can never be fully quantified. “

The Bishops, however, appealed to Nigerians not to give up but to keep hope alive for a better future.

“As your spiritual leaders, we still call upon all the good-willed and patriotic citizens of Nigeria to continue to work for the common good of all Nigerians on that same note of equity, justice and peace.

“With a critical mass of caring and concerned citizens, we can overcome our present pains and liabilities, and move Nigeria forward to a better and healthier nation than it presently is.

“We urge all Nigerians, in their various callings and positions, to uphold the banner of integrity and good action for a new Nigeria.”