The Catholic Bishop Emeritus of the Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, issued a warning on Sunday against the risks of electoral malpractices, stating that the general public suffers the direct effects of a rigged election rather than the politicians.
He also supported the call for the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to be broadcast live, arguing that it should not be “like a secret meeting” because the electorate needed to know how their votes were being upheld.
To commemorate the conclusion of the 57th World Communication Week this year, Onaiyekan made these remarks in an interview with journalists following Mass.
The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria’s National Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh, stated at the event that the Church is an extension of Christ’s mission and that this is why communication is important.
He claimed that because of his skillful communication, Jesus Christ was the only one who could accurately report to the Father on the outcome of his mission to reveal the Father to the world.
“Simply communicating is not enough; effective communication is equally important. Paul VI, the pope, was aware of this urgent need. In order to encourage Catholics worldwide to reflect on a theme centered on media and communication, he established the World Communication Day Celebration in 1967. Successive popes have continued the tradition for the past 57 years.
In his advice to journalists covering the events leading up to the May 29th handover, Onaiyekan urged them to give voice to all groups.
However, he urged the judges in the PEPT to render decisions fairly and permit transparency in the court’s proceedings so that Nigerians can once again have faith in the legal system.
As journalists, you carry out your duties and report on everything, but you should also try to pay attention to everyone and inform the public of what is happening because they want to see it.
“Isn’t that the reason the petition before the tribunal is significant—so that we could all have access to it and follow what is going on?
This is crucial, in my opinion, because Nigerians don’t seem to understand that when elections are rigged, it’s not the candidates or the politicians who suffer the most. Me and you are the ones most affected, but as things stand, we have no locus standi in court. We should be the ones to file a lawsuit alleging that my votes were tampered with, but they claim I cannot because I did not challenge the election.
“At least let us see what is going on inside there if we can’t go there and present our case. We have faith that our honorable judges will use their best judgment to render decisions that are just and morally correct. We will know that the right thing has been done because everyone will see it and it will help to calm our nerves, but if they do all of this in a secret meeting, even if they did the right thing, we will still question what they said.
Therefore, allowing this to happen is in the judiciary’s best interest. For goodness sake, what are they hiding with all these issues where there are witnesses who are not supposed to be made public? You shouldn’t be sharing anything that you feel people shouldn’t know.
“Even though they haven’t done it before, I pray that the Honorable Justices will find a solution. But they need to be prepared to act right away. In Nigeria, we have reached a point where we must act differently than we have in the past. If we act in the same manner as in the past, it indicates that we want things to stay that way, and since we can see that this is not beneficial to us, we must boldly adopt new behaviors.