Tribunal Judgement:

Nigeria’s Future Hangs on Precipice – Catholic Bishops

As the controversy generated by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) continues to resonate, the Catholic Church, under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has expressed fear that the country currently stands on the precipice of uncertainty as the case moves to the Supreme Court, reports Jude Atupulazi.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 2023 Second Plenary Assembly of the CBCN in Abuja last Sunday, the President of the Conference, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, voiced concerns over the conduct of the elections, which, he said, fell short of people’s legitimate expectations and moral and legal standards.

He highlighted the dismissive approach of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, towards the petitions filed by aggrieved contestants.

The Catholic Bishops stated: ‘After hearing their petitions, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, delivered its ruling in a marathon judgement on September 6, 2023.

‘The five justices of the Election Petition Tribunal unanimously dismissed the petitions. According to them, they lacked merit.

‘Despite the billions of Naira of tax-payers’ money appropriated for the provision of the BVAS Technology as a game-changer in our general elections, the judges in their ruling, tried, among other things, to suggest that it was wrong to expect INEC to keep its promise or obey the electoral regulation of transmitting election results electronically in real time from polling units.

‘While respecting the views of the judges, two of the petitioners rejected their verdict as lacking in justice and so have decided to head to the Supreme Court to seek justice.

‘As this case moves to the next level, the fate of the country continues to hang in the balance and the future of democracy in our land stands on the edge of a precipice.

‘We pray and hope that the Supreme Court Judges will neither bend the law nor seek to satisfy the whims and caprices of any party. We also pray and hope for a day in our nation when all election results will be finally decided at the polling units and not at the court.’

On insecurity in the land, Archbishop Ugorji lamented the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria, criticizing the government’s approach to the issue.

His words, ‘In the face of this dismal situation, we cannot get tired of urging the government to rise to its primary responsibility of securing the life and property of its citizens.’

On the economy, the Archbishop expressed deep concern over what he described as the prevailing state of tension and uncertainty in communities where residents, he said, endured a life of increasing poverty, chronic hunger, hardships, and immense suffering.

He noted that the dire situation had been further exacerbated by the abrupt and poorly planned removal of fuel subsidy, the floating of the Naira, and the subsequent galloping inflation.

The CBCN said those factors had significantly affected the prices of essential items such as food and transportation, plunging millions of Nigerians into excruciating economic hardship.

According to Archbishop Ugorji, the government’s efforts to alleviate the harsh effects of subsidy removal had not yielded significant results, leaving countless Nigerians to bear the brunt of the ruling class’s actions.

He regretted that the people had continued to live in a state of tension and uncertainty in their communities and being subjected to a life of deepening poverty, chronic hunger, untold hardship and wanton suffering.

Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Senator Victor Umeh, who represents Anambra Central Senatorial District, echoed Ugorji’s sentiments, urging those in leadership positions to consider the sufferings of the people.

‘Let me speak plainly; our concern is that urgent action needs to be taken. We implore all those in positions of leadership to consider the sufferings of our people, no matter how difficult they may be. Unless compelled, they often overlook these issues.

‘In the National Assembly, we are committed to supporting initiatives that promote the well-being of Nigerian citizens, despite being gravely misrepresented,’ Umeh said.

Culled from News Advocate