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Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos
By Odinaka Uruakpa
The catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has condemned the shooting at unarmed peaceful protesters by the military, in Lagos, Tuesday, October 20, 2020.
Archbishop martins, who made this known in a Press Release tagged, “It shall be well with our country”, made available to newsmen, said that this dastardly act has dashed the hope of Nigerians for positive change, in the way things are done in the various sectors in the country.
Said he: ‘The last few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions. There was general outrage at the way young people were being treated by security agencies, the SARS in particular.
“We expressed our outrage at these happenings in several fora and even through Press Releases. At a time, with the protests well-organized and coordinated by the youths, we dared to hope that the much-desired change in the way we do things in Nigeria would happen. We had hoped that we would see a change from the police to the politicians, to civil servants, government officials, the contractors and indeed, all sectors of the life of the country.
“All that hope was put on hold when government decided to unleash the army on the unarmed and peaceful protesters who were calling for a legitimate change that would guarantee their future, as well as give us a country that we can be proud of”.
Recalling an earlier statement where he had cautioned that dialogue, and not force was needed to handle the situation of things in Nigeria, Archbishop Matins urged the federal government to heed the call of the United Nations (UN) to investigate the shooting, so as to find the culprit(s) and the motive behind the attack.
Said Martins: “We had warned in a Press Release before then that Dialogue and not force, is the way out of the morass. Now, many young people have been killed and many more injured.
“We hope that government will heed the call of the UN and investigate how the command could be given, and who gave the command that live bullets should be used on unarmed and peaceful protesters. This is necessary so that people would show more responsibility in carrying out their duties. We did lend our voice to condemning the dastardly act of shooting at the young people in our tweets @lagarchdiocese that morning”.
While noting that people were taking advantage of the chaotic situation, to vandalize public, as well as private properties, the archbishop expressed fear that the nation is gradually descending into a state of anarchy.
“As it is, we are at a crossroad and it would seem that we are gradually descending into a state of anarchy, the kind that we had been praying against.
‘We have people who are taking advantage of the situation to burn government properties and vandalize people’s homes and properties”.
He appealed to youths who were going about vandalizing structures, to desist from the act, which he said could compound the problem on ground, as well destroy the genuine objectives behind the #ENDSARS movement.
Noted he: “We take this opportunity to appeal to those among the youths who are going about wreaking this havoc that as much as their anger and frustration is understandable, acts of violence, vandalism and destruction would only turn an otherwise noble objective into a problem for everyone. If Nigeria would be better for all, there must be a focus on the objectives of the #ENDSARS movement and never allowing any action that would undermine its purpose.”
The archbishop also urged Christians, Catholics in particular, to pray for Nigeria in the difficult and defining moments of her national life.
Said he: “I urge all the faithful, brothers and sisters, to go down on our knees in prayers for our country. These are really difficult but defining moments for us, and so we need to pray the Rosary more fervently than before, say the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. These are some of the Treasures of the Church by which we seek the intervention of heaven in our moments of difficulty.”
Archbishop Martins also said that for the next nine days (October 23, 2020 to October 31, 2020), each priest in the archdiocese should celebrate at least one Mass a day, for the return of peace in the land, for the repose of the souls of the young ones who died during the protests, and the consolation of their families.
He directed that after the Angelus, each faithful should say the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress.
He further directed families, as well as individuals to pray the Rosary, after which they should say the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, seeking his protection from all evil in these difficult days.
The archbishop charged Priest in charge of parishes, the religious in their institutions, as well as the lay faithful to be security conscious at all times.
In his words: “We encourage Priests in their Parishes, the Religious in their Convents and institutions and all the faithful in their homes to be security conscious and do what they can to keep safe in these challenging times.
“We are assured of the presence of God with us and we know that all things shall work together unto good for all us who love God. Our country has always been blessed; we believe that the grace and glory of the Lord shall not depart from our country. God bless you all.”