Archbishop Urges Nigeria’s Electoral Commission to “live above board, redeem reputation”

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji during Holy Mass for the Canonical Erection of the new Diocese of Aguleri and the installation of the new Local Ordinary, Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has called on Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to seize the opportunity of the Gubernatorial polls to redeem its “damaged reputation.”

Nigerians returned to the polls on March 18 for the election of governors and members of the State House of Assembly that had earlier been scheduled to take place on March 11. 

On March 8, Nigeria’s INEC announced the postponement of the country’s election of new governors for 28 of the 36 States by one week, citing challenges in logistics.

In his address during Holy Mass for the Canonical Erection of the new Diocese of Aguleri and the installation of the new Local Ordinary, Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji said Nigeria’s electoral commission should not “betray the trust of Nigerians once again.”

“INEC should live above board this time to redeem its damaged reputation for grossly betraying the trust of Nigerians during the 25 February 2023 presidential election,” Archbishop Ugorji said during the March 17 event.


The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese cautioned against “lame excuses” to explain the gaps in the process of the March 18 elections. 

“This is not the time for lame excuses about logics, technical glitches and the like,” he said, and added, “INEC must obey its own rules and keep its promise of uploading the results from the polling units to its server in real time.” 

On March 1, INEC declared the ruling party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of the presidential election.

The 70-year-old veteran politician got “36% of the vote while his main rival Atiku Abubakar polled 29%, and Labour's Peter Obi 25%,” results that Nigeria’s main opposition parties disputed.

In his March 17 address during the event that was held at St Joseph Cathedral of Aguleri Diocese, Archbishop Ugorji said, “It was appalling that after the presidential election, the Chairman of INEC hurriedly proceeded to announce results before the results from the polling units were uploaded to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (iRev) so as to enable everyone confirm the authenticity of the results being announced.”

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“This lack of transparency gave room for the allegations that the results were manipulated, doctored and compromised,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop lamented.

The Gubernatorial polls, he said, offer “INEC a fresh opportunity to demonstrate to all Nigerians that it can be independent, impartial and transparent and that it can deliver free, fair and credible elections. It must not try to subvert the sovereign will of Nigerians.”

“INEC has advised aggrieved candidates in the last presidential elections to go to court to seek justice,” the president of CBCN recalled, and continued, “The court, as the last hope of the common man, should not allow itself to be discredited by narrow partisan or pecuniary interests.”

“Judges, as high priests in the sacred temples of justice, should dispense justice impartially, professionally and expeditiously, without fear or favor,” Archbishop Ugorji said.

He added, “The collective will of Nigerians is sacred and must not be subverted in any way.”


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.