Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos has expressed concern over negative trends that have continued to trail the 2023 General Election even after the polls, warning that such acts could trigger avoidable and unnecessary violence that might engulf the country and jeopardize democracy if not timely check-mated. Making his position known in a statement issued on Wednesday by Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Director of Social Communications, Archbishop Martins described the incidence of ethnic profiling, verbal assaults and violence that took place in most parts of Lagos, especially before, during and after the recent gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, as “Unfortunate” and “Unacceptable.” The prelate charged the state government to call all parties to order, and as a matter of urgency take a decisive action to stem the growing ethnic profiling and other negative trends for the quick restoration of peace and normalcy. He asked the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other law enforcement agencies to maintain political neutrality and impartially as well as safeguard the lives and properties of all residents irrespective of tribe, religion, or ethnic groups. Archbishop Martins also urged the residents of Lagos to remain calm and not allow themselves to be divided against their neighbours.
The statement read in parts, “The ethnic and discriminatory comments making the rounds, particularly on social media, are not a reflection of the true nature of Lagosians, who are known to be very peace-loving, accommodating and cosmopolitan, including promoting inter-tribal marriages for many decades. “I call on everyone to put a stop to the spread of hate speech and fake news, and to shun all forms of rancour. The divisive comments and behaviours, particularly along ethnic or tribal lines are not conducive to good neigbourliness and peaceful coexistence. The people of Lagos must not allow the political class to whip up such divisive sentiments to disrupt their lives and livelihood. We are all equal before God and the only manmade distinction among people is between the poor and the rich, the privileged and the underprivileged. “We are all Nigerians and have lived and interacted together as one people for decades in Lagos and other parts of our country.
“With the elections over, we hope that all those who have been fanning the embers of ethnic division will be more circumspect and desist from further heating up the polity. We must be law-abiding citizens and not take the law into our hands in any guise”. As part of efforts to facilitate a national healing and peace process, he tasked the law enforcement agencies to investigate all reported cases of political violence and prosecute all electoral law offenders. Archbishop Martins commiserated with families that lost their loved ones and persons whose properties were destroyed in the violence that took place in the state and across the country.