NIGERIA: “No Matter How Long It Takes,” Bishops Urge INEC To Address Concerns of Contested Election

By Arnold Neliba

ABUJA, MARCH 3, 2023 (CISA)-Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have cautioned on the rising tension in the country following the disputed February 25 General Elections calling on authorities to properly investigate concerns from parties contesting the outcome of the elections.

“There is palpable tension in the air and agitations not just by some political parties but by a cross-section of the Nigerian population. We, therefore, urge the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to promptly take adequate steps to address the issues of concern in order to diffuse the tension and in the interest of the common good,” reads the statement.

The statement signed by Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) appealed for calm and restraint by Nigerians despite concerns of the credibility of the outcome of the polls.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding and fervent in prayers,” the bishops say.

According to INEC, Mr Tinubu garnered 8,794,726 votes, ahead of his main challenger Atiku Abubakar who came second with 6,984,520. The main opposition groups, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party are disputing Mr Tinubu’s victory and calling for a fresh round of voting.

“In particular, we urge the leaders of political parties to exercise restraint, while we all give INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) the time to prove that it is still worthy of our trust. At this time, when the nation is standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice, INEC must live above board to avoid plunging the nation into an avoidable crisis,” the bishops held.

Addressing concerns over the voting process, the bishops said, “Unfortunately, the experience of many voters on the Election Day were a far cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised.”

“No matter how long it takes, INEC has to ensure that it does the right thing now to ensure that the sanctity of the collective will of the electorate is not violated, so as to restore the confidence of the citizenry in our government and its institutions. As the saying goes, it is no use running when one is on the wrong road,” the bishops stressed.