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Catholic Bishops canvass support for credible polls in 2023 

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• Photo of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, used to illustrate the story.

Bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja have pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, credible and transparent general elections in 2023.

The commitment is contained in a communiqué jointly signed by Most Rev. Ignatius  Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja and  Very Rev. Fr. Sam Tumba, after the 3rd General assembly of the Archdiocese.

In the communique issued on Saturday in Abuja, the bishops enjoined Parishes, families, Church societies and groups  to dedicate special moments to pray for a hitch-free election.

“We call on Catholics and indeed all Nigerian citizens to be consciously and actively involved in the electoral processes at all levels.

“Voter registration, collection of Permanent Voters Card, casting votes on election days with a firm and clear conscience to elect credible leaders who will bring about the true dividends of democracy”, they said.

The bishops commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act into law to enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.

“We task the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure political fairness and transparency, to consolidate the trust reposed in them by Nigerians.

“Parishes and Catholic institutions within our Archdiocese are encouraged to arrange and organize voter awareness programmes, seminars and workshops guided by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission, to better equip our people for greater political responsibility.

“We remain open and willing to collaborate with relevant government agencies, electoral bodies and security operatives to ensure peaceful and credible election processes in the coming year,” the communique added.

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The bishops cautioned politicians not to regard the election as a ‘do or die’ affair, adding that they must also refrain from money politics, manipulative and divisive practices along ethnic, social and religious lines to win elections.

“Even though we decry the hard economic situations in the nation, we strongly discourage all Catholics and especially our youths from lending themselves as easy recruits for political thuggery and other criminal activities to enthrone selfish and incompetent aspirants into electoral offices.

“We discourage and condemn any form of vote buying or selling and other electoral malpractices during the elections,” the bishops said.

The bishops advised catholic politicians from all political parties within the Archdiocese to participate in Church activities, so as to be better known by the faithful.

They called on all people of goodwill to cooperate with security agencies to root out criminal elements within communities.

The bishops, however, urged security agents to remain professional in discharging their duties and resist any attempt to be used to intimidate the people by corrupt politicians.

The communique called on Catholics across the country to match work with prayer, for peaceful electioneering process.

They called for sustained prayers for the country, adding: “Nigerians should take courage and be of ardent hope, for the storms will soon be over.”

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PDP demands probe of Supreme Court fire disaster

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The Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has demanded a thorough investigation into the fire incident that gutted a section of the Supreme Court in the early hours of Monday.

The party raised the alarm over the incident which it described as suspicious giving the fact that a verdict on a sensitive issue of national importance is being expected.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba made the position of the opposition party on the fire incident known in a statement on Monday.

He said, “The PDP is worried over the fire outbreak especially given heightened public apprehension of possible arsonist attack with the intent to cripple and frustrate the Supreme Court from effectively discharging its constitutional duties especially with regard to high profile electoral cases including the Presidential Election Appeals pending before it.

“Our Party demands for an immediate full-scale investigation into the fire outbreak with the view to unraveling the circumstances or possible sabotage in the incident.

“The PDP insists that the outcome of the investigation should be made public unlike those of previous fire incidents in various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies which were characteristically swept under the carpet by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administrations.

“While calling on the Federal Government to beef up security around the Supreme Court, the PDP also demands that Nigerians must be assured of the safety of sensitive documents and equipment at the Court especially at this critical time.”

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Gov. Mbah tasks FG on New Road Maintenance Model as bridge collapses along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway

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Gov Peter Mbah (centre) and some government officials during inspection of the collapsed bridge in Enugu on Monday

…urges FG to concession roads to states

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has called for a new road maintenance model to guarantee a better condition and longevity of Nigerians roads, regretting that the current model had failed woefully.

Dr. Mbah made the call when he visited the site of the collapsed bridge between the New Artisan flyover and the NNPC Mega Station along the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway.

The collapsed bridge

Fielding questions from newsmen after the first-hand inspection of the scene of the disaster, Mbah who thanked God that no life was lost despite the magnitude of the incident, urged the federal government to consider a concession of all the federal roads in each state to the state governments for proper maintenance in conjunction with the private sector.

“I think the question should be whether the current model of federal road maintenance is working or not; and I think that is the bigger question that we must ask.

“Today, we are here witnessing a tragedy that has just occurred. We are fortunate enough that no life was lost, but this could have been prevented entirely. So, the people can no longer ply this route because of this tragedy. This shows clearly that we do not have a sound federal road maintenance model.

“The bridge collapse didn’t just happen. These threats could have been identified if we had routine or regular maintenance.

“Perhaps the way to go is to find a way to concession these roads to the states. The states need to take charge of the roads within their domains and there has to be a conversation around the funding models”.

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Gov Mbah (R) inspecting the collapsed New Artisan Enugu bridge that collapsed on Monday

The said bridge collapsed on Monday, leaving commuters stranded.

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the Enugu State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Gerald Otiji, government has advised commuters to use Nza Street through New Haven or ply Ogui Road and Abakaliki Road to their various destinations, while the authorities come up with measures for immediate repair on the failed section of the bridge.

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Flyover bridge collapses in Enugu, no casualty

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The collapsed flyover bridge in Enugu
The flyover bridge across the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway at the Enugu New Artisan market in Enugu state capital has collapsed.

The bridge collapsed Monday morning but an eyewitness said there was no casualty as artisans and residents were yet to come out from their homes for the day’s activity.

The eyewitness, an Auto Mechanic who identified himself as Nnamdi, told The Advocate that two lorries conveying goods which were on the bridge when the incident occurred were affected.

According to him, drivers and conductors of the two lorries, however, escaped unhurt.

The Advocate observed that one lane of the Enugu – Port Harcourt dual-carriage way had been blocked by the debris of the collapsed bridge forcing motorists playing the expressway to divert through alternative routes to continue their journey.

Security operatives, officials of the Federal and Enugu State Ministries of Works, Federal Road Maintenance Agency, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) were sighted within the area to access the situation as well as to assist the road users plying the alternative routes.

Residents of Goshen Estate, Premier Layout, worshippers at the Dunamis Church and traders at the New Artisan market who are regular users of the bridge are likely to encounter serious traffic gridlock on account of the collapsed bridge, if an alternative route is not created as a matter of urgency.

The state government has yet to speak on the development by press time.

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