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EndSARS protest: Pope Francis calls for prayers for Nigeria


•Nigeria sliding into anarchy, coalition cries to Buhari

In the wake of rising apprehension fuelled by the widespread protest against police brutality, head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has called for prayers for Nigeria.

He appealed for an end to violence in the country after reciting the Angelus.

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square yesterday, the Pope said he prayed that peace would be restored “through the promotion of justice and the common good.”

He said: “I follow with particular concern the news coming from Nigeria about the recent violent clashes between law enforcement agencies and some young protesters. Let us pray to the Lord for Nigeria, so that every form of violence might always be avoided, in the constant search of social harmony through the promotion of justice and the common good,” the pontiff said.

Around 20 million of Nigeria’s 206 million population are Catholics. The protests against police brutality erupted in Nigeria on October 7 with demonstrators calling for the abolition of a police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The Police on October 11 disbanded SARS, but demonstrations continued forcing soldiers to open fire on protesters on October 20 in Lagos, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International. The Nigerian army, however, has denied responsibility for the deaths.

The  police at the weekend said  it would “use all legitimate means to halt a further slide into lawlessness,” amid looting and further street violence.

Appoints 5 priests, papal chamberlains in Delta

Meanwhile, the pope has appointed five priests in Issele-Uku Diocese of Delta State as Papal Chamberlains (Monsignori).

They are  Frs. John Aduba, Michael Nwokolo, Parker Ogboi, Miletus Eze and  Augustine Ojei.

A statement by the Diocesan Director of Communications, Rev. Fr. Charles Uganwa, said the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Michael Elue would perform investiture ceremony on five papal chamberlains on Saturday, October 31.

Uganwa said the ceremony would be held in line with COVID-19 protocols and would  commence at 10am at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Issele-Uku.

He said the honour was given to the priests  in recognition of their selfless contributions to the local Church and  their services to humanity .

Uganwa stated that the Pope, in his letter conferring the honour, urged them to see the new position as a call to contribute more to the development of Nigeria.

“All Monsignori are officially part of the papal household, whether they serve in the Vatican or elsewhere. Unlike regular priests, they may wear some of the regalia normally reserved for a bishop,” he said.

Nigerians groan over impending economic hardship

In the aftermath of widespread protests and violence across the country occasioned by the #EndSARS campaign, some Nigerians are complaining about the economic hardship that may follow.

Speaking in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), yesterday, they said that the damage done by hoodlums who hijacked the hitherto peaceful protests could impose negative multiplier effects on the country’s economy.

Mrs Fatima Usman, a business owner said consumers were witnessing food shortages in Lagos.

“The destruction was widespread, but the case in Lagos is particularly worrisome. As it is, there is already shortage of basic food items and other commodities in Lagos. My sister told me that there were already long queues in commodity markets due to shortage,’’ she said.

She called on government to swiftly put the situation under control to prevent it from escalating.

Mr Aliu Ibrahim, a civil servant, said  the destruction of property by miscreants hold dire consequences on the economy.

“I believe that the protesters were not strategic enough. Since their demand was for government to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), they should have stopped the protest after SARS was dissolved and watch government implement the other conditions.

“What has happened with hoodlums hijacking the protest could heighten hunger and economic hardship in the country, considering the number of businesses that were razed,’’ he said.

Abbas Dauda, a pharmacist, said  the violence and looting would fuel hunger.

“We are already grappling with social and economic challenges brought about by COVID-19, this protests will simply worsen the situation. The idea of hoodlums breaking into warehouses and stealing items meant for the public is condemnable and will most likely increase hunger in the land,’’ he said.

An economist, Mr Raji Adebayo said the destruction of public and private investment across the country would further worsen economic situation of the downtrodden.

“I learnt that hoodlums in Lagos razed 160 new BRT buses costing about N3.5billion and several business premises. Such rage could only bring more misery to the masses not the politician nor the big investors.

“The buses are used by the masses and they are also the ones who need employment in department stores and other such places.

“The COVID-19 palliative items that a few hoodlums are even looting from warehouses are meant to serve the generality of the Nigerian masses,’’ he said.

#EndSARS protests broke out on October 8 after a video went viral on social media indicating that SARS officers gunned down a Nigerian youth and sped off with his car.

We’re sliding into anarchy, coalition cries to Buhari

Coalition of 200 Civil Society Organisations has appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari to stop the wanton looting and destruction of government facilities, particularly police stations by hoodlums, following the #EndSARS protest, lamenting that the situation would plunge the country into anarchy.

Aside announcing its exit from the protest, the group called on state governments to engage the youths in town-hall meetings to broker peace, and stop further killings and destruction property.

The group stated this in a statement, yesterday, jointly signed by representatives of Coalition of Human Rights Advocates (COHURA), Conference of Africa Mothers Forum (COAMOF), Justice and Equity Network (JUEGN), Justice And people’s Network (JUPENE) Dr Banjo Ayodele, Ngozi Okocha, Zainab Alkali and Festus Igbokwe, respectively.

The group, while decrying the hijacking of the peaceful protest by hoodlums,  said direct engagement of  youths was the best way to achieve peace in the country.

“How do we justify the wanton destruction of both private and public properties in Lagos and other parts of the country? Is this part of the protest? Certainly not! This  is a clear act of criminality that should not be tolerated. Many people have lost their lives just as many means of livelihood have been destroyed by these set of criminals.  Security forces are now helpless as they don’t want to be seen as using excessive force on the criminals.

“As the situation keeps deteriorating on an hourly basis, we strongly believe that it is time to act decisively before we are plunged into  full anarchy. These criminals and their sponsors must be stopped, arrested and all the items stolen  recovered as well as made to face prosecution. We urge the President to see this as the time to demonstrate to Nigerians that he truly swore an oath to protect their lives.

“Criminals have hijacked the entire country and if nothing is done quickly, we will have ourselves to be blame. With the deliberate burning down of police stations and looting of their armouries in Lagos, Ogun, Aba, Nnewi and some other parts of the south, it has become clear that these people are common criminals who have been looking for means to weaken our security agencies. We urge security agencies and our youths with goodwill to rise up and defend the country now.”

They group appreciated  and welcomed international collaborations and solidarities, but enjoined them to do proper investigations before meddling into issues affecting the country.

“Anything outside this would be seen as their desperate efforts to instigate gullible youths against our constituted authorities. No country in the world will take the level of destructions as seen in the last few days in Nigeria without taking actions  to restore law and order. Nigeria belongs to us and it is a sovereign state with all the laws to guide its citizens.”

Credit: The Sun

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