President Olusegun Obasanjo should retire honourably at the end of his current term as provided for by the law, the Catholic Church in Nigeria said yesterday. There should be no amendment of the Constitution to allow a third term in office for the federal president or state governors. Nigeria's provincial coordinators of Justice, Development and Peace/Caritas (JDPC) of the Catholic Church called on anti-corruption authorities to arrest any person or group collecting money to facilitate the rumoured amendment of the 1999 Constitution without due process. "Our Political process and development is facing a critical challenge with respect to the forthcoming elections in 2007, especially in the area of zoning of the office of the President and the rumoured extension of tenure of the incumbent, President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, for a third or infinite term", the coordinators told CISA. "We are in tandem with the advise given by His Grace, Most Rev John Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja, that there are many other capable hands that can continue with the good work Mr President is currently doing," said the statement, released at the end of a three-day consultative meeting in Lagos. The coordinators accused President Obasanjo's People's Democratic Party (PDP) of frustrating multi-party democracy by "strangulating" other political parties, turning elections into mere formality. "The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should do everything possible to empower other political parties to provide the necessary opposition needed in a democracy, while we urge the PDP to stop militarization of its activities." The JDPC coordinators asked the government to fulfil its pledge to fight corruption by arresting and prosecuting all officials suspected of engaging in the vice. The government should also stop further demolition of houses in Abuja until an alternative is provided for the people, and those already displaced in Lagos as a result of forceful eviction should be accommodated immediately and compensated adequately. Other recommendations touched on the failed reforms in key sectors of the economy, including privatization of public utilities, banking and infrastructure. Source: CISA
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