The Catholic Laity of Nigeria has called on Nigerian youths to put a stop on the nationwide protest which has turned into looting, destroying and vandalising of public and private properties in the country. The National President, Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, Thomas Folu Adekoya, made this appeal in a release tagged:”The aftermath of the #EndSARS protest in Nigeria”, while worrying over the recent shooting, killing and maiming of several Nigerian youths by armed military personnel during the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos. He said:”The ongoing looting is a negation of the noble idea of the #EndSARS protest which has received international applause.
“Destroying public and private property can only set the country years back by reducing the modicum level of development the country has attained. “The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, CLCN, has followed with great concern the recent happenings in the country in the past few weeks, which climaxed on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, with the shooting, killing and maiming of several Nigerian youths by armed military personnel at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos.” The Council noted that the unarmed youths had successfully exercised the peaceful protest before the killing of young people at the Lekki toll gate which prompted the looting and destroying of properties.
“It must be pointed out that the unarmed youth had peacefully exercised their constitutional right to protest for over two weeks in several states and cities across the country before the wanton killings at Lekki. “Thus the arson, looting and destruction that followed can aptly be ascribed to the shooting at Lekki and government’s poor handling of the situation.” The Council condemned the non acceptance of the mistake the authorities made by using the army to stop the protest. “Sadly, however, rather than accept that a mistake has been made in ordering armed security personnel to use maximum force on peaceful protesters, the Nigerian government has tried to be economical with the truth by telling the international community that the country’s security personnel were not responsible for the shooting; and that the government only acted in exercise of its constitutional duty to secure lives and property
.” Instances abound of incidents of killings of citizens by government security forces around the world. “But cases of shooting and killing of youths armed only with their country’s national flag, and singing their national anthem at the time, by soldiers whose duty is to defend them is nothing but a heinous crime against humanity.” The Council commended the patriotic individuals who maintained peace and orderliness during the protest. “We cannot, therefore, fail to salute the courage of these patriotic Nigerians, their orderliness and disposition to peace during the protest and the supreme sacrifice they paid for a greater and better Nigeria. “We commiserate with all the bereaved families in the #EndSARA protest and pray for the repose of the souls of the dead.
Commending the government for their early response that it had agreed to the demands of the #EndSARS protesters, the Council faulted the six months given to the judicial panels to submit reports indicating that is too slow to the state of the nation which requires urgent attention and actions. The Council at the same time called on the Federal and State governments to do everything legitimate to stop the country from dwindling into anarchy. “The issue of good governance also alluded to by the protesters should also not be down-played. “If security and welfare of citizens are the primary purpose of government then successive and present governments have failed the people.
The majority of Nigerians are suffering while only a few enjoy the wealth of the nation. The most affected are now saying that “enough is enough.” Government must, therefore, act fast to save the country,” they demanded. The Council while praying that those who died during the protest will not be in vain urged the leaders to begin a process of genuinely rebuilding the country; first, by admitting that it acted in error in ordering security forces to open fire on unarmed youth. “The Judicial Panel of Inquiry should carry out their duties justly, identify all those who master-minded the shooting and bring them to book. “This process, which must be swift, will assuage frayed nerves and help deescalate the tension that is fast spreading across the country.
Beyond that, government must take a sober look at the demands of the protesters beyond a hasty rechristening of SARS as SWAT. “The Nigerian authorities cannot deny knowledge of the brutality and corruption that are the hallmark of the Nigeria Police Force. “ Just as the government cannot fold its arms and watch criminals destroy lives and property, so too the people cannot sit and watch policemen and soldiers paid to protect and defend them extort, brutalize and kill them,” the Council pointed out.