Is it appropriate for a religious leader to take sides in political matters? An Enugu-based Catholic cleric, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, has found himself in an epicenter of controversy following his utterances about and changed stance towards President Goodluck Jonathan.
He has already been scolded by representatives of Nigerian Catholic church who maintained that there's no place for politics in the house of God. Most recently, Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), claimed that by his actions, Mbaka has breached Section 95 of the Electoral Act. Mr. Odinkalu condemned Mbaka-as-a-cleric's actions and said a reverend father should not be put "above the law nor beneath the law."
Not all Nigerians, however, agree with this position. Legit.ng reader Ekwegbo Stanley Nnabuike argues that Rev. Mbaka exercised his constitutional right to freedom of speech and stresses it is more important to focus on the problematic issues raised by Mbaka.
I refer you, Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, to Article IV section 39 (1) of 2011 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference." Freedom of speech and democratic principles and values are promoted in the Nigerian Constitution. Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka exercised his fundamental human right enshrined in our Constitution. You should stop quoting inconsequential electoral law that cannot take prominence over fundamental principles of the land.
Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka opinionated his viewpoint based on the contending issues that are threatening the very unity and prosperity of this nation. I would like to see Mr. President take his opinion at heart and addressing issues raised by the man of God. You, Chidi Odinkalu, have no moral justification to accuse Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka of any wrongdoing under any law.
The Section 95 of the Electoral Act you quoted in your post on Legit.ng is based on your personal premise and does not reflect the actual reality. Your inability, Chidi Odinkalu, to understand the true role of the NHRC - to sustain democracy - proves just that. You have stood too low and exhibited a questionable character that is at variance with the basic tenets of a human right activist. You should stop marketing your ignorance and lack of credibility.
It would be recalled that in November 2014, Rev. Mbaka pledged his support for President Goodluck Jonathan. A few months later, in his New Year address, Mbaka declared the President a failure and mocked him by calling him "bad luck". This change of disposition, as well as the controversy of a cleric expressing his political views, is being frowned upon by many Nigerians.
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