By Ononye VC
The Catholic Secretariat has released a final report on the 2023 general elections, saying that the election is the “worst in the history of Nigeria”.
This was contained in the final report released by the Church and Society Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) signed by its Director and the executive secretary of Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina and presented to the public on Friday, July 28, in Abuja.
In its report, the church regretted that despite an improved electoral act, financial support from local and international partners, as well as heightened anticipation of citizens, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies failed woefully to deliver.
Speaking, Rev. Fr. Obodoechina said that there ought to be punishment for those who compromised and manipulated the results of the elections.
Obodoechina said that the position of the Catholic Church on the election was premised on the report of its Church and Society Department team, as well as the Caritas Nigeria, dispatched across the country to monitor the elections.
He further noted that the 2023 general election was marred with several irregularities including violence, intimidation, disenfranchisement, vote-buying, logistics challenges, et al.
He also regretted that Nigerians are disappointed in the outcome of the elections, feeling as they do that the results, as declared by INEC did not reflect the wishes of the majority of the electorates.
The executive secretary of Caritas Nigeria pointed out that ten political parties instituted 1, 341 cases, which constitutes about 90 per cent of the 1, 490 contested seats.
He also noted that 346 judges have been engaged in different tribunals, making the 2023 elections the most litigated, contentious, disputed elections in the history of Nigeria’s electoral democracy.
Obodoechina said: “[The election] witnessed violence, intimidation, disenfranchisement, vote-buying, logistics challenges that affected the credibility of the election including the perceived compromise from security agencies that aided the activities of hoodlums.
“Obviously, majority of Nigerians are disappointed with the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies despite the huge financial and logistics support it received.
“However, the 2023 general elections have come and gone, and had unfortunately left mixed feelings in the minds of most Nigerians. Most electorates are feeling disappointed in the outcome of the elections.
“This was because they did not feel the results, as declared by INEC, reflected the wishes of the majority of Nigerians.
“One of the greatest flaws of the 2023 elections was the inability, unwillingness, and outright refusal of INEC to upload results from Form EC8A to the IReV portal in real-time from the Polling Units as was severally promised before the conduct of the election.
“Presently, 10 political parties have instituted 1, 341 cases, representing about 90 per cent of the 1, 490 contested seats; and 346 judges have been engaged in different tribunals, making the 2023 elections the most litigated, contentious, disputed elections in the history of Nigeria’s electoral democracy.
“There are chances that the 1, 341 petitions may not be the last since some other cases have not come to the fore.”
Obodoechina lamented that despite the humongous sum dumped into the election, more than N3 billion is estimated to be spent by INEC in defending cases brought against it due to the outcome of the elections.