“Guard against violence, hate speech”: Catholic Bishop in Nigeria to Politicians

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The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Uyo in Nigeria has cautioned politicians against violence and hate speech during campaigns ahead of the country’s February 2023 general elections.

Speaking at the 8th Biennial National Convention of the Catholic Social Forum of Nigeria in Abuja on October 22, Bishop John Ebebe Ayah said, “It was necessary to ensure the emergence of credible leaders in the country”.

“Christians and all Nigerians should be civil in conduct as campaigns for the 2023 general elections are ongoing,” Bishop Ayah further said, and added, “Nigerians, including politicians, must guard against violence and hate speech during the campaigns.”

In his speech during the convention, which the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria organized under the theme, “The lay faithful in Nigeria democratic experience: The journey so far”, the Catholic Bishop said, “Nigerians were determined more than ever to vote for candidates of their choice.”

“I don’t see voter apathy this season, for what I see compared to the previous years, I anticipate a lot more people,” the 62-year-old Nigerian Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Uyo Diocese since July 2014 said.


He added, “I pray that people don’t go violent to discourage those that want to vote; I trust there is going to be civility and people won’t distort the process.”

Bishop Ayah who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2007 as the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Ogoja Diocese urged Catholics in the West African nation to be “steadfast in prayers for the church, family and country.”

On September 28, the 18 candidates vying for Presidency in Nigeria launched their nationwide campaigns ahead of the 25 February 2023 general elections that will see the electorate in Africa’s most populous nation also vote for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar, and former Vice President and Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, are among candidates vying for the Presidency.

The election of State Governors in the West African nation has been slated for 11 March 2023.

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Also speaking during the October 22 event, the Director of Justice, Development, Peace and Caritas Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri urged Nigerians “to be properly involved in politics, so as to ensure good governance.”

In his presentation titled, “Politics: Political Participation and the need for good governance,” Fr. Gerald Njoku said that the electoral process must be allowed to work.

The Catholic priest urged election observers “to do their jobs thoroughly so as to provide constructive criticism and suggestions on the electoral process.”

Fr. Njoku called on voters to “elect credible leaders and reject vote buying and selling”.

On September 29, the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria cautioned politicians against luring the electorate ahead of the country’s general elections.


“We are aware of the capacity of this process (vote buying) to undermine the entire project of democracy,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said during the signing of a peace accord by presidential candidates of all 18 recognized political parties, committing themselves to a peaceful campaign.

Bishop Kukah added, “Politicians must not exploit the weaknesses of our people in a way and manner that has made vote buying part of our culture.”

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop expressed the hope that voter fraud penalties spelt out in the Electoral Act 2022 “will be implemented to the letter by relevant actors”.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.