The River State Christian Ecumenical Centre, Port Harcourt, under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), has urged Christians to participate actively in the electoral process as part of their civic responsibilities in the society.
The advice was given during a one-day voters sensitisation and education programme organised by the apex Christian leadership body in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Delivering his welcome address, the Chairman, Rivers State Ecumenical Centre, Rev Dan Obinna said the programme was to “educate the public, including the church, on the need to exercise our civic responsibilities with understanding and knowledge”.
He said CAN was deeply concerned about the apathy of the citizenry, especially christians, in politics due to “ignorance, misconceptions and misinformation from some quarters,”.
He noted that CAN as a body has it as a social responsibility to sensitise and educate the public on social, political, moral issues among others.
Speaking at the event, the Resident Electoral Commission or (REC) in Rivers State, Obo Efangha, expressed concern over the growing incidents of electoral violence, in Rivers State, as characterised by the Port Harcourt Constituency III bye election.
Assuring the conduct of free, credible and fair election in the state, the REC called on stakeholders, such as security agencies and the political parties, not to heat up the polity but play their roles in line with constitutional provisions.
The INEC boss expressed regret that INEC officials have become the target of electoral violence, noting that many of the staff, in Rivers State were attacked during the said re-run polls.
He commended CAN for the initiative and called on other stakeholders to join hands in the sensitization of the public against electoral violence.
On his part, the Director of the Rivers State Orientation Agency (NOA), in Rivers State, Mr. Oliver Wolugbom, said the prevalence of election violence and other political vices were a result of the non-challant attitudes of church and Christians in general.
“Most religious leaders glorify politician rather than scolding them against their excess,” he said, and called for a concerted effort on the part of critical stakeholders towards addressing the issues.
Also Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed said the police was poised towards creating a conducive environment for voters to exercise their civic responsibilities through voting candidates of their choice.
The Commssioner warned police officers against any involvement in electoral crimes, noting that only assigned officers would be allowed to participate in the conduct of elections.
Taneh Beemene &Isioma Robinson