Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has reacted to the verdict of the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal, which trashed petitions by Labour Party’s Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar of PDP against President Bola Tinubu of APC, for lack of merit.
Atiku and Obi have since rejected the ruling of the tribunal and began moves to appeal the court’s declaration.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 2023 second plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday, President of the CBCN, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, said Nigeria currently stands on the precipice of uncertainty as the case moves to the Supreme Court.
Archbishop Ugorji expressed concerns over the conduct of the elections, which he said fell short of people’s legitimate expectations, as well as moral and legal standards.
He highlighted the “dismissive approach” of the tribunal towards the petitions filed by Atiku and Obi.
Archbishop Ugorji regretted that despite the billions of naira of tax-payers money appropriated for the provision of the BVAS technology; as a game-changer in Nigeria’s 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,” he added.
He lamented the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria, criticizing the government’s approach to the issue.
“In the face of this dismal situation, we cannot get tired of urging the government to rise to its primary responsibility of securing the lives and property of its citizens,” he stressed.
On the economy, Ugorji expressed deep concern over the prevailing state of tension and uncertainty in communities, where residents endure 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 these factors had significantly affected the prices of essential items such as food and transportation, plunging millions of Nigerians into excruciating economic hardship.
According to Ugorji, the government’s efforts to alleviate the harsh effects of subsidy removal have not yielded significant results, leaving countless Nigerians to bear the brunt of the ruling class’s actions.
“People have continued to live in a state of tension and uncertainty in our communities as they are subjected to a life of deepening poverty, chronic hunger, untold hardship and wanton suffering.”