Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, yesterday, joined the call for live broadcast of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal proceedings, saying it should not be “like a secret meeting”.
Onaiyekan spoke in Abuja during an interview with journalists after a mass to mark the end of the 57th annual World Communication Week. He said the voters needed to follow up on how their votes were being defended.
The priest admonished journalists to give voice to all groups, as they covered the activities for the May 29 handover.
He called on judges of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to dispense judgement fairly and allow the tribunal’s proceedings to be transparent so that Nigerians could rekindle their hope in the judiciary.
Onaiyekan said, “As journalists, you do your job, cover everything, but try and listen to everybody and relay to the public what is happening, because they want to see. Isn’t it why it is important the petitions before the tribunal, the possibility that the tribunal should be available to all of us to be able to follow what is happening?
“For me, this is very important. One thing that Nigerians don’t seem to realise is that when elections are rigged, it is not the contestants or the politicians who are worst hit. Those who are the most impacted is me and you, but as it stands, we don’t even have locus standi in court.
“We are the ones, who should be complaining in court that my votes have been bastardised, but they tell me I cannot go to the court because I did not contest the election.”
National Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh, who also spoke, said the Church was an extension of the mission of Christ, and that was the reason communication was necessary.
Umoh said Jesus Christ could only report to the Father on the success of His mission of showing the Father to the world, because he was effective in his communication style.
Umoh stated, “It is not enough to communicate, it is also as important that we communicate effectively. Pope Paul 6 was aware of this great need. Thus in 1967, he established the World Communication Day Celebration as an annual event during which Catholics all over the world reflect on a theme, which focuses on media and communication. Since then, 57 years now, successive Popes have maintained the tradition.”