By Jimoh Joseph, Ado Ekiti
Catholic Bishops in Nigeria under the aegis of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have decried reported registration of under-aged people for electioneering purposes by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Catholic Bishops therefore called on the commission to urgently correct the ugly situation.
The CBCN, in a communique issued at the end of its first plenary meeting of the year in Abuja, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Ado-Ekiti, also held that there were reports that some eligible Nigerians were unable to register to vote owing to lack of facilities.
In the communique signed by the Archbishop of Jos, Most Reverend Ignatius Ayau Kaigama (President) and the Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene, Most Reverend Camillus Raymond Umoh, Assistant Secretary, CBCN said: “We hear of the registration of under aged persons. It is quite unfortunate that our young people allow themselves to be used as canon fodders in electoral malpractices.
“Government and especially INEC, should address these serious lapses with utmost urgency and without discrimination and bias.”
On the inability of some eligible Nigerians to get registered, the Bishops said they learnt that the problem was pronounced in certain parts of the country and therefore asked INEC to tackle the anomaly.
They said: “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 equally reported that such difficulty in registration often target certain segments of the community.”
In the document entitled “…That They May Have Life and Have it More Abundantly (John 10:10”, the clerics said recent events in the country gave cause for concern with regards to what they said were “political assassinations, killing for ritual purposes and frequent mass murder of harmless, innocent and defenseless citizens.”
CBCN said “recent happenings in Nigeria give cause for grave concern and worry. The wave of political assassinations, killing for ritual purposes, frequent mass murder of harmless, innocent and defenceless citizens are instances.
“Very often our young people, the very symbols of life and vigour, are the victims and agents of this wastage of human life. In recognition of our divine mandate, may we remind all of the sacredness and inviolability of human life. No person, authority or institution has the right to terminate human life.
“We say no to these senseless killings, and urge everybody to respect the sanctity of human life and end the flow of innocent blood in our land. We advocate a stronger collaboration between the government, the security agencies, and the entire population, for a more efficient protection of human life and property.
“We appeal to the consciences of every member of the Nigerian society to respect the eternal commandment of God: “Thou shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). May God grant eternal rest to all those who have lost their lives in all these unfortunate incidents.”
They expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for a recent audience he granted them at the presidential villa in Abuja, saying “while we thank him for giving us a listening ear, we expect him to urgently address the issues raised, as he promised he would.”