11 December 2018

Nigeria: Catholic Church Knocks Buhari for Refusing to Sign Electoral Bill

Photo: allafrica.com
Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili, presidential candidate and former education minister

Owerri — The Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, yesterday described as worrisome, the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law, the amended Electoral Act by the national assembly.

The Head, Justice, Development Peace and Caritas Commission, JDPC, Reverend Father Gerald Njoku spoke to newsmen in Owerri, adding that the church was committed to free and fair election in the country.

He also announced that the Catholic Church would organise a political debate for the governorship candidates in Imo State in February 2019.

JDPC added that the Catholic church had not endorsed any governorship candidate.

According to him, "JDPC, is an organ of the church that relates with the society, especially in the areas of good governance advocacy, entrepreneurship development, medical outreaches, skill acquisition, education sponsorship, legal and humanitarian interventions."

He said: "We challenge INEC to bring to bear more robust strategies to ensure that Permanent Voters Cards get to owners.

"The current position where over 500,000 voters cards are yet to be collected is totally unacceptable and we appeal that all of us should work together to ensure that a good percentage of Imo voters collect their voters cards."

The JDPC boss expressed worry over the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold assent to the amended electoral bill.

"The position of the church before this latest development is that the signing and implementation of the amended bill will sufficiently improve our electoral process and guarantee elections that will be acceptable to majority of the stakeholders. One can therefore imagine the disappointment that greeted the non signing of the bill," he noted.

He continued: "The church overtime has been known to be procursor to good governance as well as protecting and speaking for the voiceless.

"In playing this role, the church has often been misunderstood and sometimes maligned. It is our determination to state here that the church though not insulated from mistakes, will continue to advocate for justice and good governance.

"The spate of violence has become a source of concern to the church. This is more as a result of desperation on the side of politicians."

... fixes Imo governorship debate for February

On the preparation to organise a political debate for the governorship candidates in Imo State, Njoku said that the Cathoilc Church had taken note of the lapses which occurred in the 20I5 governorship debate in Imo and decided that the 2019 debate would be strictly on invitation on the side of the audience.

Recall the 2015 debate of the Catholic Church was disrupted by suspected thugs as well as political rival groups.

Rolling out the activities, for 2019, JDPC, said: "The commission will hold a sensitisation and voter education road show along the streets of Owerri on Wednesday 12th December, 2018."

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