Catholic Archbishop speaks on crisis in Lagos

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins has called for peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups in the country.

Martins made the call on Thursday in a statement, while reacting to reports of violence in some parts of the state, during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.

He also urged all parties to sheathe their swords for the reign of peace and tranquillity which the state is known for’.

The Archbishop also urged those fuelling the embers of ethnicity and disunity in the state to desist to forestall possible breakdown of law and order.

“I wish to call on Nigerians, especially residents of Lagos not to allow their political differences degenerate into any form of violence such that will polarise the state and throw it into chaos.

“We hear of how the elections of Feb. 23 are currently generating some tension in parts of the state with ethnic group pitched against another.

“Lagos is a Metropolitan city and home to over 17 million Nigerians, it does not matter where we come from or which religion we profess.

“We should learn to accommodate each other’s political differences; shun violence and avoid the temptation of undermining the security of life and property of any one.

“Lagos is known as one of the most peaceful cities in the country. Let us desist from any act capable of undermining our peaceful coexistence,” he said.

He condemned the several cases of electoral violence recorded in the state, stressing that it is unfortunate that in spite of all the sensitisation efforts made by churches and civil society organisations to educate the electorate on their rights and responsibilities, before, during and after elections, people are still intolerant.

He called on the government and the law enforcement agencies to look closely into the matter to forestall future occurrences, particularly the next round of elections coming up next week.

“We are in a democracy which allows for one-man-one-vote. It is wrong for anyone to dictate or impose his or her will on another concerning who to cast his or her vote for.

“Such acts are undemocratic and undermine the provisions of the electoral act. I urge those involved to desist from such acts forthwith,” he said.

Martins also urged those contesting for political offices to prevail on their supporters to desist from undermining the rights of the electorate by intimidating them not to elect the persons of their choice.

He called on parents and guardians to prevail on their wards to resist any attempt to use them as canon fodders for political upheavals and thuggery.

“We must keep up our prayers for peaceful free and fair elections,” he said.