By Emmanuel Afonne
The Episcopal Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has called on Anglican faithful to disregard ‘‘malicious publications’’ making the rounds on alleged impropriety and corruption in the election of the new bishop of Lagos diocese.
The admonition is contained in a statement issued by the Episcopal Secretary of the Church, Bishop David Onuoha, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement was responding to publications which the bishops said attempted to smear the image of the leadership of the Church in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 election of a successor to the incumbent Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos, who retires in August 2018.
“This particular election was held alongside four others at the Cathedral Church of St Barnabas, Ilorin, in the Diocese of Kwara, Kwara State in accordance with the church’s laid down rules and regulations. The event was free and fair.
“A total of 161 bishops participated and pursuant to the provisions of Canon V of the Constitution and Canons of the Church of Nigeria 1997 (as Amended), candidates were nominated after the advice from the diocese, which favoured translation, had been circulated and read.
“The procedure before every election in the House of Bishops is to appoint a team of returning officers to collate the results. This was strictly followed with the Rt. Rev Sosthenes Eze, bishop of Enugu North diocese, leading eight other bishops to perform this sacred duty.
“Only two candidates, Most Rev Michael Fape, bishop of Remo diocese, and Rt. Rev Humphrey Olumakaiye were duly nominated and seconded by highly respected members of the house without any objection raised against any of them,’’
According to the statement, after the voting which was by secret ballot, Most Rev’d Michael Fape polled 51 votes; Rt. Rev Humphrey Olumakaiye garnered 109 votes, while one bishop absented from the votes.
“By this result Rt. Rev’ d Humphrey Olumakaiye, Bishop of Osun North East became duly elected for translation to the See of Lagos,’’ the statement said.
The Episcopal Secretary noted that it was therefore uncharitable for anyone to smear the image of the Primate of the Church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and accuse him of not following laid down rules of the Church in the election of bishops.
“The Primate as the President of the Episcopal Synod statutorily calls for nominations, and after the voting and counting of votes by those responsible, announces the results as submitted by the chief returning officer.
“Votes are cast, counted and results declared in the full glare of the general house.
“It is, therefore, uncharitable to attempt to smear the image of our beloved Primate, Most Rev Nicholas D Okoh, instead of thanking God for the numerous blessings He has graciously granted His church since the inception of this administration.
“We call on the discerning public, especially all Anglican faithful to disregard the said malicious publications in their entirety as they are baseless and without any iota of truth.
“The bishops of the Church of Nigeria remain resolute and united in their determination to uphold godliness and righteousness in their service to God and humanity.
“We also call on our brethren who have fallen into this temptation of seeking to destabilize the church to use this period of Lent to seek God’s face in repentance that He may grant them forgiveness and time for amendment of life,’’’ the Episcopal Secretary said in the statement emailed to NAN in Abuja.