COURTING ELECTORAL CRIME IN THE NAME OF GOD
“This is a clear instruction, when it is time to vote , vote only in the favour of the Church not for your party. Any believer that sells out his faith in the name of party is heading for hell”.
The above quoted statement is contained in a video being circulated in the cyberspace. It was made allegedly by a high ranking pastor, a man of God, of one of the Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria, “regarding the forthcoming 2023 Elections”.
This statement, when appropriately situated and contextualized, is a violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022. Making such a statement to a congregation and members of a church denomination amounts, in our view, to committing a criminal offence.
This statement is not protected by Section 39( 1&2) of the Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and the press. Verbal or written threats to life or defamatory statements, for example, do not enjoy the constitutional protection of right to freedom of expression and the press.
For the avoidance of any doubt, Section 97 of the Electoral Act, 2022 prohibits political campaign based on religion or tribe. It states :
97(1) A candidate, person or association who engages in campaigning or broadcasting based on religious, tribal or sectional reason for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or the election of a particular candidate, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction-
( a) to a maximum fine of # 1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of twelve months or both; and
(b) in the case of political party to a maximum fine of # 10,000,000 “.
At this rate , it may well be in the interests of partisan politicians in cassocks and in bisht and turbans to ask for constitutional and electoral reforms that will allow for the transformation of religious organizations into political parties.
In Egypt, we had the Muslims Brotherhood. In the Netherlands, the Christian Union (Party ); and in Germany, the Christian Democratic Union ( Party), and Christian Social Union ( Party ).The “ Christian Parties “ do not campaign for votes on the basis of Christianity, and purely as religious organizations, but the name “Christian” is permitted to be used in these countries’ electoral system.
Enough of men of God lusting for temporal power of men. To satisfy their lust, they should drop their religious garbs and grab the partisan and political gowns.
We are familiar with liberation theology. What is now prevalent in our religious organizations is none of that. It is the apotheosis of politicking theology.
Saturday, 23rd July, 2022