Catholic church declares 2023 election worst in history
In a scathing report presented by the Caritas Nigeria (Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria) election observer group, the 2023 general elections were labeled as the worst in Nigeria’s electoral history.
The director of the Church and Society Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina, who is also the Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria, highlighted several issues that marred the elections, including violence, intimidation, disenfranchisement, vote-buying, and logistical challenges, significantly impacting the credibility of the electoral process.
INEC’s Disappointing Performance
Rev. Fr. Obodoechina expressed the widespread disappointment among Nigerians with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies despite the significant financial and logistical support they received.
One of the most significant flaws identified was INEC’s failure to upload real-time results from Form EC8A to the IReV portal from the Polling Units, which had been promised repeatedly before the elections.
This omission raised questions about the integrity of the election results and fueled doubts about the transparency of the process.
The fallout from the 2023 elections has been unprecedented, with no fewer than 10 political parties lodging 1,341 cases, representing around 90 percent of the 1,490 contested seats.
This high number of litigations has resulted in 346 judges being engaged in different tribunals, making it the most litigated, contentious, and disputed elections in the history of Nigeria’s electoral democracy.
The soaring number of petitions has raised concerns about the efficacy and role of the judiciary in determining election outcomes.
Challenges and Skepticism:
Rev. Fr. Obodoechina highlighted that there are indications that the 1,341 petitions may not be the last, with the possibility of more cases coming to light.
This situation raises questions about the reliance on the judiciary to determine election winners, which was originally intended to be the role of INEC.
He expressed skepticism about the level of corruption, impunity, and failure of consequences in the country and how these factors might impact the justice served to the litigants.
In light of the troubling observations, the Caritas Nigeria observer group urged INEC to issue an apology to the Nigerian people for dashing their hopes and conducting an election that fell short of not only their expectations but also those of the international community.
Despite the substantial funds allocated for the electoral exercise, the outcome raised serious concerns about the overall integrity of the process and the need for accountability and transparency.
The 2023 general elections in Nigeria has been widely regarded as a low point in the country’s electoral history.
The Catholic Church, through its Caritas Nigeria observer group, has brought to light the alarming issues that plagued the electoral process, such as violence, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and vote-buying.
Furthermore, the unprecedented number of litigations has raised questions about the role of the judiciary in determining election outcomes. Moving forward, it is crucial for authorities to address these concerns, restore public trust in the electoral system, and uphold the integrity of future elections. Only through genuine accountability and comprehensive reforms can Nigeria hope to rebuild confidence in its democracy.
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