Push for “further reforms” to Hasten Nigeria’s Poll Petitions: Bishops to Civil Societies

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the faithful of Holy Trinity Church, Maitamain in Abuja Archdiocese during the opening Mass of the 2nd Plenary Assembly. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese.

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) are calling on civil societies in the West African nation to push for reforms that can hasten election-related petitions so that they are determined before a new President is sworn-in. 

In their communiqué at the end of their nine-day 2023 second Plenary Assembly that concluded on September 15, CBCN members make reference to Nigeria’s disputed presidential poll and that of other political leaders following the February and March general elections.

Despite court cases challenging his victory in the February 25 presidential elections, President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s head of State on May 29. His victory was upheld on September 6 in line with the country’s constitution allowing election tribunals to deliver poll petition rulings within 180 days (six month) from the date the petition is filed. 

In their communiqué, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say, “We urge civil societies to put more pressure on government to initiate further reforms in which all election petitions would be determined before the swearing-in and inauguration of new administrations.”

They also express their concern about the attitudes, objectives, and behavior of the political class at all levels in the West African nation, which they say “are far from the ideal” and call for an urgent “radical change of heart among all politicians” for a stronger nation.


CBCN members laud the decision that former Presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), took to seek redress through the courts. 

“We are pleased to note that many of the aggrieved persons opted to seek redress through the courts rather than inciting people to violence,” CBCN members say in their collective statement that Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama published on his Facebook page on September 15.

They add, “As the judicial determination of the election petitions is ongoing, we continue to call on the tribunals and the courts to be fair, just and credible in their judgements. This will inspire confidence in the process and encourage every citizen to work for the common good.”

While acknowledging that the elections were “marred by many pitfalls and irregularities”, the Catholic Bishops in Africa’s most populous nation “encourage the electorate to always hope in God and not to despair in the exercise of their civic duties."

In the statement that  CBCN president, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and Secretary, Bishop Donatus A. Ogun, signed, the Bishops remind the Catholic Laity “with talent for politics to make themselves available for this moral political duty.”

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“We remind all the Clergy and Consecrated Persons that partisan political activities and holding of public offices are, by Church Law, primarily the roles reserved to the Lay Faithful,” they say in their collective statement following their Plenary Assembly that was held at Chida International Hotel, Utako District in Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese.

They emphasize, “We the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, forbid the participation of our priests and consecrated persons in partisan politics.”

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.