“Tragically questionable election”: Nigerian Cardinal in Disclaimer amid Misleading Post

John Cardinal Onaiyekan. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network (NCN)

John Cardinal Onaiyekan has described the Presidential poll in the West African nation as “a tragically questionable election”, and clarified the viral social media post that has him ask Nigerians to accept the results of the now disputed February 25 election.

In a  March 3 “disclaimer”, Cardinal Onaiyekan says that the “post making rounds on the internet … is misleading.”

Published on March 2, a day after the announcement of the Presidential result, the Facebook post reads in part, “Emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has advised Nigerians to accept the result of the general elections when it is eventually announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”

The post further indicates that the Nigerian Cardinal had given the advice “yesterday (March 1) in his sermon at the Church of the Assumption Parish, Asokoro, Abuja.”

In his disclaimer, the personal Secretary of Cardinal Onaiyekan, Fr. Emmanuel Adugba, says that the Cardinal’s message was delivered on February 26, the day after the general elections, “with the belief then shared by most Nigerians that the process and the outcome of the elections will be free, fair, and credible as promised by INEC. Unfortunately, the result turned out to be totally different.”


“The author of the post presents it as if His Eminence made this appeal after the results of the presidential election were announced by INEC thereby making it seem as though His Eminence is appealing to Nigerians to accept the now announced result of an election whose credibility has been called to serious question,” Fr. Adugba says.

The Secretary of the Archbishop emeritus continues, “After a tragically questionable election, His Eminence blatantly refuses to be fraudulently drafted into boosting a non-existent credibility of results and the consequent legitimacy of the declared winner.”

Cardinal Onaiyekan is “a firm lover of peace, but never at the expense of truth and justice,” Fr. Adugba adds in the one-page disclaimer dated March 3.

On March 1, INEC declared the ruling party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of the presidential election with 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million garnered by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Atiku Abubakar, and  6.1 million votes by Labour Party’s (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.

PDP and LP candidates disputed the results, accusing the INEC of not uploading the presidential results from the polling stations.

More in Africa

In a Friday, March 3 interview with ACI Africa,  Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke urged opposition political parties to “follow the rule of law” in challenging the disputed presidential election. 

Cardinal Okpaleke said the electoral process was “marred with lots of loopholes” and “cries from different angles that the process was not as transparent as expected.”

“The new Electoral Act gives specifications on the process to elect a new president. We are so disappointed with INEC for not having followed that process,” the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Ekwulobia that was erected on 5 March 2020 told ACI Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In a separate interview, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese said, “The Church believes that there are opportunities for dissenting competitors to go to court.”

Bishop Badejo called on Nigerians to remain “calm and wait for the outcome of the courts if there is any appeal against his (Mr. Tinubu) election.”


Meanwhile, in his Sunday, March 5 homily, the National Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, called on Nigerians to look towards justice that comes from God. 

Fr. Michael Umoh said, “People may be able to snatch ballot boxes and change figures on votes, thereby trying to undermine the will of the people. But as long as they cannot stop the day from turning to night, and the night from turning to day, it means that there is still a supreme being who is above all and in control of all things.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.