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Ensuring Credible 2023 General Elections.

A Communiqué issued by the Catholic Bishops of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Tuesday 17 – Wednesday 18 January 2023.



We, the Catholic Bishops of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, met at the Villa Assumpta Owerri, from 17-18 January 2023. Having prayerfully deliberated on a number of issues of great importance to our people, we issue the following Communiqué.

  1. ​A New Year, a Fresh Start

We welcome the year 2023 with much hope and gratitude to God. The preceding year 2022 left us with a cloud of uncertainties which we addressed in our last Communiqué, “Averting the Gathering Storm.” So many issues of concern happened in our nation, communities and individual lives: myriads of socio-economic and cultural problems, high level of youth unemployment, an increasing wave of crime and violence, a rather pessimistic outlook on the future of our survival as a nation, etc. These socio-economic and political problems have threatened our well-being as citizens, and have challenged our faith as Christians.

We do not expect that all the many challenges confronting our lives as citizens of Nigeria will fizzle away so quickly this new year. But our Christian faith reassures us of God’s abiding presence at all times, and the new opportunities that He will guarantee us in this new year. When the Old Israel was crossing the Jordan, on their way to the Promised Land, God commanded Joshua to allow the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to go in front of the multitude, “that you may know the way to take, for you have not gone over this road before” (Joshua 3:1 – 5). In the same way, we invite us all to look forward to the new year 2023 with fresh optimism and courage, knowing that with God leading us on our path, no evil shall overcome us (Romans 8:31).

2.​Reclaiming our Nation

The year 2023 is another landmark year of general elections in the country.  The eyes of the world are already on Nigeria to see if the current democratic experiment will be credible if our votes will count and if our lives and future be secured. Elections to public offices that started in Nigeria in 1959 with different political parties and democratic experiments have not translated into accountable, democratic governance for the nation. The series of elections since the independence of Nigeria has hardly succeeded in producing credible leaders who have the capacity and vision to move the nation forward. The elections this year will be most critical, as the outcome will determine the way forward for the nation in the face of an exhausting array of challenges, complex security crises, a collapsing economy, etc. The surge in the number of new voter registrations, especially among young people, suggests that Nigerians believe that this year’s elections are a process that deserves their time and energy. With this resurgence of hope in the electoral process, we wish to address every segment of society as they relate to the success of the elections: the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the electorate, the political candidates and office seekers, security and paramilitary agents, the judiciary and the media.

3.​The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Since the signing into law of the new Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2022, and with the successful conduct of some Gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun state, the hope of Nigerians in the ability of INEC to conduct free and fair elections has been reawakened. Other reasons for optimism include using and deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS), expanding voter access to polling units for the first time in 25 years, and other innovations undertaken by INEC. We, therefore, charge INEC to discharge its duty with the utmost sense of responsibility and transparency. INEC officials and those co-opted by them for the exercise, should eschew corrupt practices and avoid all forms of monetary inducement from politicians and their agents. We demand free-and-fair elections to improve the unfortunate narrative of the Nigerian nation. INEC must not betray the trust of millions of Nigerians this time around.

4.​The Electorate

The power of the electorate lies in their votes. We hear reports of many Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) still in the custody of INEC as a result of apathy on the part of the voters, and inefficiency, delays and lack of adequate information on the part of INEC. Every voter should endeavour to collect his or her PVC so as to exercise his or her franchise. The credibility of the elections this year will depend on the degree to which ordinary citizens vote freely and fairly. We hope there will be no cases of vote-buying, vote-selling and election rigging, as these represent critical impediments to a genuine democratic consolidation.

Like in previous elections, the prevailing structural, infrastructural and social realities may still complicate this year’s electoral process. Some negative forces may like to delegitimise the electoral process through violent attacks on INEC facilities and infrastructures. Some political parties may encourage their supporters to resort to violence and intimidation against political opponents. We encourage our citizens to remain vigilant and resist every incitement to violence and destruction. This time we must vote wisely, freely and conscientiously. We must discharge this civic responsibility as our unique contribution towards a better Nigeria.

5.​The Political Candidates and Office Seekers

Our land is already saturated with the blood of innocent citizens who lost their lives as a result of ungodly political practices. Politicians should shun every form of bloodshedding and wanton destruction of lives and properties before, during and after these elections. Political office seekers and their cohorts must be law-abiding citizens and must follow the electoral guidelines given by INEC. Winning an election is not a do-or-die affair. So we call on the candidates and their representatives to respect the rule of law and eschew the politics of bitterness.

6.​The Judiciary

The integrity of the judiciary needs to be maintained in the face of the critical nature of the 2023 elections. While we appreciate the noble role played by a number of judicial officials in election matters, we denounce the frivolity that has entered into the judiciary in the recent past, with reckless interventions and judgements that ridicule the Judiciary. In a democracy, the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. So speedy and judicious adjudication of electoral cases will strengthen the judiciary’s confidence in the electorate. We encourage our Bench and Bar to perform their civic duties with utmost honesty and impartiality.

7.​Security and Paramilitary Agents

It is the duty of the security agencies to defend the life and property of the citizenry and to enforce the rule of law in the nation. The rising cases of insecurity all across the nation, and the ever-present threat of political violence, challenge the competence and readiness of our security apparatus to live up to its constitutional duties. In the past, some of our security agencies have chosen to look the other way when electoral violence is being perpetrated in order not to offend their political benefactors. Other times these security agencies have been used to intimidate and muzzle political opponents. The success of the operational and logistical work of INEC will depend on the courage and readiness of security agencies to be alert to their duties. Therefore, we encourage our security forces to stand with all Nigerians to defend the rule of law and the success of the general elections.

8.​The media

The media have a major role to play in ensuring credible elections. The media can distort any electoral process. This is the reason we are addressing these words to our Media Practitioners. It is part of your civic responsibility to guard against misinformation by avoiding inflammatory language, peddling of rumours and disseminating fake news. Media houses must work hard to safeguard credible elections by allowing all parties the space to air their views, and making their platforms accessible to all candidates. The public media should not be monopolized by any set of politicians, and the various media groups must dutifully go about the work of informing, educating, correcting, exposing and leading the general public towards the goal of entrenching a free, democratic environment.


We have, in the past, bemoaned the failings of the democratic experiment in our nation. We call on all citizens of this nation to rise to our civic responsibility and ensure credible 2023 general elections. This election will make or mar our country. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. Nigerians should rise and vote, and vote rightly. so that we elect visionary, honest and compassionate leaders, with hearts that beat for the welfare of one and all in our nation. We pray for the dawn of a new Nigeria where our children can look forward with hope. We urge all Nigerians to intensify the recitation of the “Prayer for Free, Fair and Peaceful Elections in Nigeria.”

May Mary the Queen of Nigeria intercede for us. Amen.



Most Rev. Lucius I. Ugorji                                                 Most Rev. Augustine N. Echema

Archbishop of Owerri                                                         Bishop of Aba

Chairman                                                                              Secretary






January 18
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