JDPC Awka Diocese Warns Against Election Violence, Vote Buying

…Urges Electorate to Vote According to Their Conscience

By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu

The Director of Justice, Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC) Awka Diocese, Rev. Fr. Levi Ndubisi Ukor, has called on electorate to shun violence, vote buying and as well vote according to their conscience, noting that accepting money to vote in the wrong person would be tantamount to anarchy and doom.

Rev Fr. Ukor who stated this at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka described JDPC as the social arm of the Church tasked with ensuring good governance and sound political participation within society.

‘Here in Awka Diocese, we have worked and are still working hard to perform these functions to the best of our abilities. By this Saturday, if everything goes according to plan, the good people of Anambra state will have another opportunity to choose who becomes their governor for the next four years.

‘While we anxiously await the experimentation of electronic voting during this election, JDPC Awka Diocese would wish to categorically state the following: Election is not a do or die affair. As such, all hands must be on deck to provide the best conducive environment for peaceful election. All candidates must be driven by passion to provide quality leadership to the people.

‘The Independent National Electoral Commission must remain independent and committed as they have always been. This is not a time for arrangements to favour one against the other. No government agency must allow herself to be intimidated or used as a tool for intimidating the electorates. Voter intimidation should be prevented before it is condemned.

‘Security agencies must do more to protect the average Anambrarian who is willing to exercise his or her franchise, while according them in full, their fundamental human rights. Finally, if democracy still remains the government of the people, for and by the people, then the will of the people must be allowed to prevail in all circumstances.

‘JDPC Awka Diocese has deemed it fit to address you on various matters arising from this forthcoming election.
We are all aware of the security challenges which citizens of Anambra had had to grapple with, within the last few months.

‘It is something of concern to JDPC and the Church at large, that most people can no longer sleep comfortably, travel to their destinations in peace or be about their normal businesses without feeling insecure. Killings, kidnappings, shootings, banditry and similar discomforting situations have dominated our news recently.

‘Several factors may be attributable to these sad occurrences, but it is quite clear that the situation worsened with the advent of political campaigns in the state. Be that as it may, it is really not what the state is known for.

‘Amidst this sad situation and more, what can we do? We must not lose hope. The Justice, Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC), Awka Diocese has not and will never lose hope. We wish to encourage the good people of Anambra state to stay strong in this trying moment. In the words of the Psalmist in (Ps. 91 vs 7), thousands may fall at our side; ten thousand at our right hand; but it shall not come near us. We must not give up; neither shall we shy away from our democratic duties.

‘Anambra has always been the pace-setter in recording peaceful elections and she will always be. No matter what happens, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

‘We thank the government of the state and all government agencies that have swiftly risen to these challenges. In particular, we thank the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for their doggedness, diligence and resilience so far. It is clear that the lives of the staff and the properties of this commission have been put in danger severally, but they have not given up.

‘The introduction of electronic voting by INEC is another giant stride recorded in our democracy, as we believe this will ensure transparency and protection of votes everywhere. We also thank the security agencies who make effort to secure lives and properties even when theirs are in danger.

‘We sincerely thank ndi Anambra for their understanding and commitment to the course of good governance. We thank INEC once more, this time for letting JDPC be part of the monitoring process for this election. This is a privilege that will boost confidence from all and sundry.

‘Under the paternal guidance of my Lord Bishops Most Rev. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor and his auxiliary Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye whose unwavering support led us thus far, we will do our work well, without fear or favour,’ he concluded.

For his part, the Project Coordinator, Mr Nelson Whyte Nwaenyi appealed to electorate to adhere strictly to rules and regulations governing every voting process, saying that money collected in a election day would not solve any problem.

‘We promise everyone that our men will be on ground to see what is happening and render accurate reports afterwards,’ he said.