The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, has called for sanctions against a Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka, who publicly urged Nigerians to vote President Goodluck Jonathan out.
Mr. Onaiyekan was quoted by Thisday newspaper as saying that based on the rules of the church, Reverend Father Mbaka, who heads the Adoration Ministry congregation in Enugu, ought to be sanctioned for his outburst.
He criticised the cleric for going overboard in his sermon and insinuating that the Jonathan administration is plagued with “bad luck” and poor performance.
Father Mbaka had on December 31, 2014, told Nigerians to use the forthcoming general election to vote Mr. Jonathan out.
Speaking to thousands of parishioners, he said the president had failed to stem the tide of insecurity and corruption in the country.
Mr. Mbaka said that although Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate is a Muslim, he would bring the needed change in Nigeria.
Cardinal Onaiyekan disassociated the Catholic Church in Nigeria from Father Mbaka’s statements.
“Mbaka will take responsibilities for his own actions. I do not believe in my mind that the way things are in Nigeria, any Catholic priest has the mandate to decide which of the political contestants should be voted for,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.
“What most of us will do is to tell people to vote according to their conscience and then, we tell the authorities to allow people to vote freely and fairly.
“Like I said, Mbaka is a priest of his own type. If he was in my archdioceses, I would have sanctioned him long ago for the kind of things and utterances that he makes.
“But, he is not under my diocese; he has a bishop to handle that if there is any need. I hope that people are not thinking that we are sending Mbaka to talk rubbish.
“If you want to hear anything even not official but at least, authoritative, then, you listen to the bishops. Rather than him and I don’t see any bishop talking that way,” said the Cardinal.
He, however, cautioned the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, to desist from campaigns of calumny.
Despite the prophecies of doom ahead of the 2015 elections, Cardinal Onaiyekan said, “PDP and APC have no right to disorganise Nigeria.”
The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigam, had also said Father Mbaka’s remarks never represented the position of the Catholic Church of Nigeria.
He said the fiery Enugu priest merely numbers among the over 30 million Catholic faithful in the country, adding that the official position of the church can only be communicated through the Bishops Conference.