2019: Don’t Kill Your Opponents – Catholic Bishop Warns Politicians
By Austin Echefu
The Catholic Bishop of Okigwe Diocese in Imo State, Dr Solomon Amatu, on Friday called on politicians to embrace peace and eschew violence ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Bishop made the call during his sermon at the commendation service of Ezinne Eunice Nkwoada Iwu, mother of the former National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu, at the St Michael’s Parish, Umukabia in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, even as he condemned open grazing by armed herdsmen.
While urging the people to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased, the Bishop called on them not to forget that they would someday give account of their life to God.
“Whatever you are doing, remember there is only one God who created us and He created us for a purpose. Never lose sight of this: whether you are a governor or not, we must give account of our deeds to God”.
He also lamented that so many Christmas no longer live their life to please God but themselves, saying: “We have gone out on our own way and have done things to please us. But in spite of that God sent His only son and he died to save us. To achieve salvation for us Christ died on the cross, to save us. And I appeal to you today not to let the sufferings of out mother lying down here go in vain.
“God knows we are weak but He shows mercy and compassion to us. Our prayers for the deceased can help her gain acceptance before God. We cannot say that our mother here had not sinned but we acknowledge the failures of our mother here and we ask that if God could forgive notorious criminals in the Bible He could forgive our mother her failures also”.
He noted that “God is the Supreme Being of the whole universe and we can call him anything we want, but He wants us to call him Father. If He is our Father, why can’t we call ourselves brothers and put it in practice?
“I think we must all, like the rich man in Matthew, ask ourselves privately or publicly what we can do to inherit the kingdom of God? If we want to inherit the kingdom of God that He had promised us, we must keep the commandments of God”.
He told the politicians at the service that the future of Nigeria is in their hands as they are capable of making or marring her.
“I think these things ennumerted here concern us, especially those who can make Nigeria good or bad. Besides, elections are around and the campaigns are kicking off”, he said, reminding them that God said: “Thou shall not kill”.
He called on them to eschew violence and not to kill their opponents in order to gain some political advantage, even as he urged them not to steal votes or send anyone to do so on their behalf.
“I didn’t say you kill, but don’t kill. Don’t send anyone to kill.
Again, don’t steal. Don’t carry ballot boxes and run away because it is stealing. Don’t steal votes. Don’t commit adultery. When you go to campaign ground and see the way women dress you would marvel”, he noted.
The Bishop also assured that “God has not asked us to do what is impossible. He knows doing these things are within our powers: Don’t bear false witness and above all love your neighbour as you love yourself. You don’t have to fight to become governor. But instead everyone should test their popularity at the polls”.
He also condemned imposition of candidates in election, stressing that it is the duty of the people to choose their leaders. He urged the people to get their voters cards and report any difficulty they encounter to the Church.
“It is in our powers to choose who would represent us. Have we all got our voters cards? Go and get your voters cards and get ready to vote. The 2019 general elections is not going to be by gunshots but by voting. Vote in the right person.
“And to INEC, please when it is the time for election endeavour to do what you did in Anambra State last year. At the last election in Anambra State everyone saw it was free and transparent.
“INEC can do something good if they want to do it. We want the same done here in Imo State.
“Some INEC officials make themselves purchasable and when they do it the people that have money would buy them. No one went to court in Anambra State because the election was free and transparent. Don’t make yourself purchasable.
Nigeria is in your hands”.
Speaking on open grazing and the armed herdsmen, he recalled that growing up he saw herdsmen herding their cattle. “But today they carry AK47 and no one questions them”.
He warned: “Remember that you share in other people’s sin by consent, from moral point of view. Second, by command: when you command people to do bad things you share in other people’s sin and when you reach God’s throne you will answer for it. By provocation and praise you also share in the sin, and by concealment and silence you also share in other people’s sin.
“That’s why when we see one governor or the other doing bad things we go to him and tell him. And by defending what is bad you can share in other people’s sin”.
Bishop Amatu also warned politicians not to run others down, saying: “Don’t do anything to run down your opponent or try to eliminate him”.