Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
The directive was made, recently, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria by Fr. Ralph Madu, the Secretary General at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN). Fr. Madu addressed the media in his office at Durumi, Abuja.
The stance of the Bishops comes in the wake of a public altercation between Fr. Ejike Mbaka, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu and Peter Obi, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Fr. Mbaka is the Spiritual Director of Enugu Adoration Ministry.
During a fundraising event, Fr. Mbaka suggested that presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Obi might not win next year's election if Obi did not make a specific pledge or donation to the ministry's project. Generally, at such fundraising events, politicians make public their contribution or pledge for projects being undertaken by the Church.
The Church must always be neutral
Fr. Madu has offered guidelines to pastoral agents given next year’s elections. The CSN Secretary-General stated that the Catholic Church in consonance with the directives of the universal Church remains neutral and has no support or special relationship with any politician or political party in the country.
Church wants a free and fair 2019 election
Fr. Madu said the Church advocates for a 2019 election that would not only be free and fair but one which would also be free of rancour and violence.
The Adoration Ministry Spiritual Director, Fr. Mbaka, has since publicly apologised to Peter Obi saying he will henceforth “focus on Christ whom we worship.” He faced widespread backlash for the altercation.
Fr. Mbaka is often courted by Nigerian politicians because of the large number of people that attend his crusades.