From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

The Bishop of the Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion, Timothy Yahaya, has said that all Anglican Bishops in the country have made far-reaching suggestions to the federal government to wash off its hands from appointing the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the next election in 2027.

Instead, Bishop Yahaya said all the Bishops suggested that Civil Society Organisations in the country should be allowed to appoint an INEC chairman for transparency, justice and fairness to thrive.

He said so far he was not comfortable with the slow speed with which elections petition tribunals are moving, pointing out that in other climes election matters are done with before any swearing-in ceremony takes place.

The Anglican Cleric spoke on Sunday while fielding questions from newsmen on the occasion of the third session of the 22nd Synod held at St. Stephen, Anglican Communion, Sabo Tasha, Kaduna.

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“I am not comfortable with the speed of the election petition Tribunal and that is why in Synod if you get our Bishop’s presidential address, we have suggestions on the issue of elections; number one, no INEC chairman should be appointed by the government any more, we should ask civil Society Organisations to come together and charter how we can get INEC chairman. Number two, we must make sure that nobody is sworn-in in this country except elections cases are terminated.

“And therefore in the Synod, we suggested that if the presidential election takes place, in six weeks all matters that have to do with the presidential election cases should be terminated. We did an election in February and we are still in the preliminary stage of the matters of the elections. The same thing for the National Assembly since February the election was held. As if there is something wrong somewhere.

“Number three, we want to ensure that electronic voting is the in thing because it will reduce the corruption in INEC. The amount of money we used in conducting the elections is huge. India for example has a population of one billion, go and check how much they use for elections. How many are we Nigeria, 200 million people and we are spending money that is triple that of India? Something somewhere is wrong.

“Another suggestion we have is that all the Justices and Judges that are serving must never be taken to head election petition tribunal. We have retired Justices and Judges, they should be used together. For 180 days all civil litigations, crimes and civil litigations are always holidays until the tribunal is finished with its assignment. What kind of a country are we in? When you delay someone’s justice for 180 days, it is justice delayed, justice denied. This is our suggestion to the government.

“They should make sure that there is a total overhaul of the electoral process so that the people can have confidence in this country. When an election takes place and it is over, everybody will be satisfied. And even if you are not satisfied we will know that it is because of your greed that you are not satisfied. But when elections are over and people are suspecting whether there is hanky panky or not, and things like that, it doesn’t help this country, even in the eyes of the international community”. Bishop Yahaya said.