The Southeast Zone of the Network of Evangelical Bishops of Nigeria (NEBN) has raised the alarm about what it calls the determination of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State to “kidnap the finances of the state”.
In a statement in Enugu today, the Southeast zonal chairman of the Christian body, Bishop Samuel Ani, and the acting publicity secretary, Bishop Emmanuel Eneh, said the only rational “explanation for the ongoing debasement of reason by the party and its candidate in the March 18 gubernatorial election, which includes securing an ex parte order from the Federal High Court in Abuja against the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) making a statement on the validity of the NYSC discharge provided by the PDP candidate, is the unyielding determination to kidnap the finances of the state.”
The PDP candidate, Peter Mbah, who is now the official Enugu State governor-elect, claims in a form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that he was issued with the NYSC Discharge Certificate with number 808297 in January 2003. However, the NYSC director of Certification, Ibrahim A. Muhammadu, had in a letter written on February 1, 2023, dissociated the corps from the certificate.
The bishops accused the PDP of attaining a new low in the state’s politics because of the amount its governorship candidate borrowed from banks ostensibly to finance his Pinnacle Oil and Gas Company operations, but “may have been diverted to politics.
“We strongly suspect that the party and its members are doing everything possible to recoup this fortune from the Enugu people, and so have been taking unbelievable steps to capture the public treasury by all means possible”.
There are times when it becomes a grave sin for individuals and groups, including the church, to be silent or sit on the fence under the guise of being apolitical, the NEBN asserted for its justification of its new open interventions in Enugu State affairs.
The bishops remarked that the state has been under siege since March 18 when the governorship election and the House of Assembly election were conducted, “and the Enugu people voted overwhelmingly for change by identifying solidly with the Labour Party, as they did on February 25 when they gave the party 428,640 out of the 482,990 votes cast, or 88.7%, in the presidential election and endorsed seven out of its eight candidates in the House of Representatives election, to say nothing about Labour winning two of the three senatorial seats when the Senate election was conducted on March 18 owing to the assassination of the Labour Party candidate in the Enugu East senatorial zone, Barrister Oyibo Chukwu, on February 22, 2023, two days to the election.
“Despite the generous use of coercion by the state government controlled by the PDP in the March 18 election, Labour won 14 out of the 24 legislative seats on offer”.
Saying it would not recognise Mbah as the governor-elect because the people did not choose him, the NEBN argued that it would be ungodly and sacrilegious as well as a grave offence against good conscience for its members to “join forces with a tiny band of buccaneers desperate to kidnap the state’s finances”.
It advised Mbah to toe the “honorable path and do the right thing, regardless of his stupendous financial investment in politics which the Enugu people have rejected resoundingly”.
The bishops recalled that Mbah spent 10 months with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after he left office in 2007 as the Commissioner for Finance, observing that the “optics about him are by no means encouraging”.
They described the PDP candidate as a divisive figure who hired some partisan priests to campaign for him purely on the basis of his sectarian preference.
“We are proud of the Catholic congregants who heroically stood up like one man and rejected him openly when he and his cohorts went to campaign on Sunday, March 5, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Coal Camp, Enugu; the Church of Assumption Parish, Nkwo Nike, Enugu; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, New Haven, Enugu; and the Ugwu Di Nso Pilgrimage Centre at Eke in Udi Local Government Area where the youth participating in the yearly Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria Conference drove him away and made videos out of the encounter.
“We are proud that the Enugu people have long passed the stage of denominational politics because Jesus Christ has told his apostles and disciples to pray ‘for all shall be one’ (John 17:21)”