Catholic Bishops have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to enact, endorse and implement laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future.
One of the reported phenomena during the 2019 general elections, the Bishops said was the: “crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all cost.”
They demanded government should acknowledge the inadequacies that characterized the 2019 elections and embark on a course for redress.
According to a communique at the end of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) held in Abuja and jointly signed by the President, CBCN, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze and the Secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Umoh: “We affirm that elections are an opportunity for people through the ballot to freely choose those who will serve them.
“We denounce the unfortunate incident of loss of lives and destruction of property, which is ongoing even now. We however, admonish that elections should not be turned into a battle between warriors fighting to capture power and conquer territory and people at all cost.
“We observe that many of the challenges that emerged during the electoral process were as a result of inadequate electoral laws, which made implementation problematic and at times offered lacunae for evil minded people to exploit the situation to their own advantage.
“Even where the rules were clear, they were not always adhered to. One of the reported phenomena during the elections was the crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all cost.
“Bad elections do not lead to good governance. We demand that the government acknowledge the inadequacies that characterized the 2019 elections and embark on a course for redress.
“We urge her to enact, endorse and implement laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future.”
They added: “We enjoin all Nigerians, leaders and the led, to abide by democratic principles such as respect for human life, human rights and the rule of law.
“We also encourage the electorate to ensure that those who hold public offices in our country are held accountable.
“We equally urge all Nigerians to eschew all forms of indiscipline and corruption and be resolute rather than lose hope in our struggle for a better future and nation.”
On apathy, they said: “It may not have been unconnected with among other things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarization of the process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process.
“We have taken note of those who have been declared winners, and commend the civility of those who rejected the results but have chosen to express their grievances through legitimate means under the law rather than through violence.
“Whatever the outcome, justice must be seen to have been done. We admonish whoever holds power at the end of the day to remember that power belongs to God and to Him alone.
“God demands strict accountability for how anyone takes power and uses it, for God cannot be deceived or challenged (Lk 16:2).”
On the recent killings in Kaduna and other states, the bishops said: “We have received with deep sorrow, the tragic news of the resurgence of further horrific killings in some parts of Kaduna State, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Rivers, Zamfara, Adamawa and other states.
“Against the backdrop of the violence and bloodshed that characterized the last elections, we are pained that the culture of death is becoming embedded into our daily lives.
“This persistent devaluation of human life and property poses an existential threat to our personal survival and that of our nation. How can government continue to appear helpless in the face of such shameful tragedy?
“We strongly appeal to the President, in collaboration with the Governors of Kaduna State and other affected States to seriously take steps to arrest this drift before total anarchy and mayhem consume the entire nation.”
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