The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria has added its voice to condemn the shootings that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, where unidentified military personnel opened fire on unarmed #EndSARS protesters. In a press statement signed by National President, Thomas Folu Adekoya and Nation- al Secretary-General, Hon. (Sir) Henry H. Yunkwap KSJI, JP the group noted the need for the nation and people to be on the path to peace, healing and national renaissance. Speaking on behalf of the council, the National President, Thomas Folu Adekoya acknowledged that the ENDSARS protest as the biggest protest ever held by youths in Nigeria.
He said: “The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria acknowledges the biggest protest by Nigerian youths in recent times, christened #EndSARS. The nation saw young people come together to call for the proscription of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). “We recognize that while the young people pushed for the said proscription, they also used this #EndSARS movement as a metaphor for a national rebirth and a renaissance of sorts because the truth remains that we are still on a journey to optimum good governance and there is a need to do better in a number of sectors of our national life. “To this extent, Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria lends its voice to the unadulterated and pristine call by our nation’s young people in the manner discussed above, and to also reinforce the statement already released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN on this subject matter. While calling for accountability to citizens, Adekoya charged government on its responsibility to ensure that the dreams of the country’s founding fathers is realized.
In his words: “We recognize that Nigeria belongs to citizens of Nigeria, and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that the dreams of our founding fathers is improved upon and not disparaged. Thus our support for systems and popular calls that holds the Government accountable to its citizenry.” Calling attention to the rights to free speech of citizens, and commiserating with the families of victims of police brutality, and recent shootings, he charged government to defend the rights of citizens and assure the international community that Nigeria is a truly a democratic state “We wish to recognize that their rights are entrenched in the 1999 Constitution (to congregate and to freely speak their minds) and we use this opportunity to condemn the shootings that were reported at the Lekki venue of the #EndSARS movement.
“Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families and call on the government to rise up and show the committee of democratic countries that we have the capacity to be truly democratic and be the defender of its citizenry. The world is watching and we cannot fall flat in the international arena”, he said. While condemning the hijack of the peaceful protest by hoodlums, the national president urged government to investigate, expose and prosecute those behind the hoodlums’ hijacking of the protest. Said he: “We have noted that the recent narrative has been more about how the protest was hijacked by hoodlums and we are worried about why the said hijack was possible in the first place.
We say this remembering that the protesters were mostly with security coverage when the protest began. We believe that the situation so described should be investigated with the aim of exposing those behind these hoodlums, with a view to apprehending and prosecuting them. There is a need not to water down what these great young people set out to do in the first place.” On parenthood and tutelage, he said: “We wish to use this opportunity to recognize and encourage parents who are the first line of tutelage for our young people not to relent but continue to uphold this God given duty to our children. Godly homes ultimately guarantee a God fearing Nation.” On government and trust on the part of citizens, especially the youths, he said: ‘We wish to call on Government to earn the trust of the young generation who are calling for this true change and create an unassailable vehicle for developmental engagement.
This is the time to close ranks and rebuild the edifice of nationhood and regain our pride of place globally.” While praying for unity and betterment of the country, Adekoya tasked federal and state governments to ensure the panels of inquiry set up to address the issues on ground, live up to expectation and that the victims are adequately compensated. His words: “We call on the State and Federal Governments to ensure that the State Commission of inquiries live up to expectation and that adequate compensation will be given to those who deserve it at the end of their assignments. While ensuring that the federal government prosecutes those that have been found wanting in their police duties, we firmly throw our weight behind the call for thorough Police reforms. “May the Almighty God grant us the courage to unite across the lines that divide us. May we strive to keep this county in good health so that the unborn generations coming after us will have a place to call home.”