The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has raised the alarm that the human element in the last elections, as well as the delay in the electronic transmission of results to the viewing portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before the announcement, has queried the supposed transparency of the entire process.

The stand of the Catholic Bishops was made public via a press statement signed by the CBCN President, Most Rev, Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, and made available to newsmen in Owerri yesterday.

Part of the statement read: “For a very long time now, we have been praying for peaceful, transparent and credible elections, as well as an accurate transmission of their results.

“We thank God, who in His infinite mercy, has continued to save our country Nigeria, from chaos, anarchy and doom. Before the general elections of February 25, 2023, Nigerians were assured both by the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that enough electoral reforms and preparations have been made to ensure that the sovereign will of the people, would be accurately reflected in the conduct of the elections.

“Hence, people trooped out in their numbers to cast votes in order to freely choose their next President and representatives at the Senate and Federal House of Representatives.

“Unfortunately, the experiences of many voters on election day were a far cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised. In many places, the human element is alleged to have compromised the gains that were expected from the innovations of the new Electoral Act.

“In addition, the delay in the electronic transmission of the results of the polling units to the INEC results viewing portal before their announcements at the collation centres has raised suspicion in many minds about the transparency of the entire process.”

While warning that there is, palpable tension in the air and agitations, not just by some political parties, but by the cross-section of the Nigerian population, the Catholic Bishops however, urged INEC to promptly take adequate steps to address the issues of concern, in order to diffuse the tension and the interest of the common good.

They said: “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.”

They appealed to all Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding and fervent in prayer, stressing: “The leaders of political parties should exercise restraint, while we all give INEC 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.”

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