The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on Thursday urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the challenges surrounding the ongoing voter registration exercise in the country.
The CBCN, in the communiqué released at the Closing Mass of the 2018 First Plenary in Abuja signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, urged INEC to stop the registration of the underaged.
It said this was a threat to the sanctity of the electoral process, particularly as Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections.
The Catholic bishops expressed their dissatisfaction with the report that alleged inadequate provision of registration facilities by INEC deprived many eligible people of their right to register for voting.
They however urged all Nigerians, especially Christians, to register so as to be able to democratically vote and choose their leaders in free and fair elections.
The communiqué encouraged Nigerians, particularly Christians, not to be discouraged by the difficulties but participate in the voter registration exercise to be able to participate in the elections.
The Catholic bishops reminded Christians that they would not be able to participate in the process of selecting credible leaders except they were armed with their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
“This process begins with the registration of voters, an exercise that is ongoing nationwide.
“Reports reaching us from all over the nation indicate that in many places facilities for registration are not available, thus depriving many people of the right to register for voting.
“It is quite unfortunate that our young people allow themselves to be used as cannon fodder in electoral malpractices,’’ the bishops’ said.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Benin City Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Augustine Akabueze, has been elected the new President of CBCN.
The Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, emerged as the conference’s Vice-President, while the Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene Diocese, Most Rev. Camilus Umoh, was elected the Secretary.
They will form the conference’s new executive committee, following the expiration of the tenure of the executive committee led by the Archbishop of Jos Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama.