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Catholic bishop decries IPOB’s call for boycott of 2019 polls

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The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, the Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, has expressed concern over the call by IPOB on the South-East to boycott the 2019 general elections.

Ugorji expressed his concern in his sermon on the occasion of the Corpus Christi (the celebration of Christ the King) at the Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia on Sunday.

Recalls that the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) has repeatedly issued statements, calling on the people of the zone not to participate in the general elections.

Some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, making brisk appearance along some streets in Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday, in what it called Show of Force in its determination to carry out its Sit-at-Home directive against Operation Python Dance 3.

The group said the boycott would underscore the demand for a referendum over its agitation for Biafra and further press for the realisation of the Republic of Biafra

But Ugorji said that failure to vote during the 2019 polls would amount to abdication of one’s right and civic responsibility.

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He said: “I heard that some persons are discouraging people from going to vote during the general elections.

“It is your right and civic responsibility to vote during elections. Elections offer the citizenry the opportunity to elect good leaders who will provide good governance.

“If you fail to vote, you have failed to exercise your civic responsibility as responsible citizens, thus paving the way for the emergence of bad and insensitive leaders.

“Presently, we are still Nigerians. We do not have another country we can call our own.

“So it is our right and civic responsibility to vote and chose those that will govern us at the federal, state and local government levels.

The cleric said that the period of the electioneering provided an opportunity for the present administrations at all levels to give account of their stewardship based on their campaign promises to the electorate.

He recalled that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari promised a three-point agenda that hinged on security, job creation and fight against corruption.

“This is the time for the Federal Government to give account of its performance on each of the agenda,” he said.

Ugorji further charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that votes would count in 2019, especially with its promise to use the card reader.

He also admonished the judiciary to resist financial inducement to subvert the wishes of the people, adding that it should make integrity and uprightness its watchword.

He said that the Catholic Church was non-partisan but encouraged its faithful to exercise their civic responsibility toward the election of credible leaders.

On the Corpus Christi, the cleric said that the event marked the end of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church and also helped to remind Christians about the end of time.

“It reminds us about when Christ will come as king and incorruptible judge to judge the world and take his people to himself.”

The bishop therefore urged Christians to emulate Jesus Christ by bearing authentic witnesses in all they did in their homes and larger society.

Highlights of the celebration was a solemn procession of the faithful round the major streets of Umuahia, with parish priests in the diocese and bishop bearing Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

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