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Bishops to N’Assembly: Stop Working against Electoral Reform, Press Freedom

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GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA AND THE COMMON GOOD | CBCN Communiqué

The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have criticized the National Assembly for voting against electronic transmission of election results and other issues of national interest based on partisan interests.

The Bishops described as absurd, a situation, where elected federal lawmakers put parties’ interests above national interests, by working against electoral reform, press freedom and other issues that affect Nigeria.

The Province comprises the following dioceses: Ibadan, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo.

In a communiqué issued after its meeting at Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure, Ondo State on Wednesday, the prelates said:

“The ongoing controversy surrounding the proceedings of the National Assembly gives ample evidence of the theatre of the absurd, which democratic representation has become in Nigeria – be it on the electoral reform, electronic transmission of electoral results, press freedom or the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“The work of those, who represent the people at the federal level in Nigeria does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people for whose interest they were allegedly elected. With the National Assembly at various occasions prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians.

“Simply put, those who claim to represent the people seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of the same people. Indeed, the time may have come for Nigerians to no longer simply roll over and accept non-representative decisions of the assembly but to challenge them by all legitimate means,” the communiqué said.

The Bishops appealed to Nigerians to resist attempt being allegedly contrived to silence the press and penalize journalists for merely doing their job in the country.

They insisted that the freedom of expression was a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the constitution and could not be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy.

The prelates also backed the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah in his effort to unveil the truth about the Nigerian situation in order to ameliorate things, calling on the government not to perceive criticism as a crime.

The bishops further stated: “Our sympathies with those who continue to pay a high price. We express our deepest sympathies for the Nigerians, who bear the brunt of Nigeria’s debilitating situation, because of economic depression and hunger, armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, unemployment and injustice.

“Many have died as has happened in Igangan in Oyo State and elsewhere while so many are still dying. May the departed souls rest in perfect peace and may those who are suffering at various levels find help and comfort”.

Congratulating Muslims on Sallah celebration, the  church fathers  urged Muslims to in the spirit of the festival work together for peace and make all necessary sacrifices to build a nation on the strong pillars of fairness, justice, equity and the rule of law.

The communique was signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Bishops Gabriel Abegunrin and John Oyejola respectively.

LEAD COVER STORY OCTOBER 24

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