The Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Dr. Adewale Martins, has ruled out involvement of Catholic Church in the alleged N6 billion bribe given to some Christian leaders to campaign against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidates, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi recently made the allegation at a political rally that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bribed some Christian leaders with N6 billion to campaign against the APC and its presidential candidate.
Amaechi said the Christian leaders had been circulating documents to convince Nigerians that the APC and Buhari would Islamize the country if voted into power.
Reacting to the allegation during a press conference, organized by the church to celebrate this year’s Valentine day at the weekend in Lagos, the Catholic Archbishop said the church should be exonerated from the bribery allegation because it had not endorsed any political candidate or party.
“If any Christian leader collected money to adopt, campaign for or against any political candidate, please count us out, we are not part of it.
“Catholic Church does not have any political candidate, we are apolitical. We neither endorse, campaign for nor campaign against any political candidate.
“In our church, all our campaigns have been on principle of good governance. The church is part of the society and we cannot close our eyes to what is happening in our society.
“People should vote according to their conscience, based on the track record, performance and achievement of the contestants, and not religion or ethnicity”, he said.
He urged Nigerians to pray for the country and the success of the forthcoming polls.
Meanwhile, the Northern State Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) has appealed to Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, to name the church leaders who he alleged collected N6 billion to support an unnamed presidential candidate.
The elders promised to ostracize such leaders if Amaechi could mention them.
The group’s Chairman, Elder Olaiya Phillips, in a statement at the weekend, also condemned any agenda to induce voters based on religious sentiments.
Phillips said: “The alleged inducement is of the gravest kind. What he alleges, if it is true, will be a serious indictment of our brethren and he has a duty to reveal what he knows.
“We believe that the choice the country’s elections present must be about the best person for the job in every case, rather than about a candidate’s religion”.
He added that it would be ‘unconscionable’ for pastors to receive such alleged inducement “at a time in which the needs of our brethren, especially the many displaced and dispossessed in the North, requires every kobo that can be deployed in amelioration”.
Urging Amaechi to name the alleged pastors, Phillips said “He must conclude what he has began. He is duty and honour bound to substantiate his allegation by naming the persons he refers to.
“We are anxious to know who these offenders are, so that we may avoid them. It would then be incumbent on the umbrella bodies, under whose auspices these pastors collected the alleged N6 billion, to investigate such acts of which prima facie evidence is provided”.