A Lagos-based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, has faulted Christian clerics who dictate how their members should vote during elections.

In a statement made available to The PUNCH on Saturday, Ogunye was making reference to a preacher who asked his congregation to vote in “favour of the Church.”

A popular preacher was alleged to have said, “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”.

Reacting, Ogunye, in a statement titled, ‘Courting Electoral Crime In The Name Of God’, noted that such a statement was 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,” he said.

The human rights activist added, “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 the 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.”

He noted that people who are found campaigning based on religion are, according to Section 97(1a), ” a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of twelve months or both.”

Ogunye added, “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.”

By Tochi

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