AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Nigeria continues to hang in the balance and democracy stands on the edge of a precipice"

Monday, 11 September 2023 bishops   elections  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "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", warns Msgr. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Archbishop of Owerri and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, during the opening of the Second Plenary Assembly of Nigerian Bishops. Msgr. Ugorji was referring to the ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, PEPT, which confirmed the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by rejecting the requests presented by the candidate of the Labor Party, Peter Obi, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar. Abubakar and Obi, respectively second and third in the presidential elections of February 25 (see Fides, 1/3/2023), had asked the court to annul the elections for a series of reasons: from electoral fraud to the failure to electronically publish the results by of the electoral agency. Obi and Atiku, who rejected the court's verdict, decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court. “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,” the President of the Nigeria Bishops Conference said. “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. Bishop Ugorji also lamented that “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.” The INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED) together with the INEC Bimodal Voter Accreditation System is a system to verify the correct identity of voters (through biometric verification) and then transmit the results from individual polling stations to the centralized polling system. On the eve of the election, the Nigerian Bishops (see Fides 20/2/2023) had warned of the risks associated with the use of new technologies in the upcoming votes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/9/2023)