The Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr Alfred Adewale Martins has stressed the need for the various ethnic groups in the state to continue to live in peace and harmony.
Reacting to the skirmishes that were reported in some parts of the State during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, and the rumour of reprisal attacks, Archbishop Martins called on all parties to sheathe their swords and allow the peaceful and tranquillity for which the state is known to subsist.
He equally pleaded with all those fuelling the embers of ethnicity and disunity in the state to desist so as to forestall possible breakdown of law and order.
“I wish to call on all residents of our dear state, Lagos, not to allow their political differences degenerate into any form of violence such that we polarize the state and throw it into chaos. We hear of how the elections of February 23rd is currently generating some tension in parts of the state, with ethnic group pitched against another. Let us all remember that Lagos is a Metropolitan city and home to over 17 million Nigerians drawn from far and near. We are all brothers and sisters. It does not matter where we come from or which religion we profess. We should therefore 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.”
On the several cases of electoral violence recorded in the state, Archbishop Martins said this was unfortunate and condemnable, considering the various sensitization efforts made by the Church and the Civil Societies to sensitise the electorate on their rights and responsibilities, before, during and after casting their votes.
He called on the government and the law enforcement agencies to look closely into the matter in order to forestall future occurrences, particularly the next round of elections coming up in two weeks time.
“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.”
Archbishop Martins also called on political parties and those contesting for political offices in the state to prevail on their supporters to desist from undermining the rights of the electorate by intimidating them with a view to disenfranchising them or disrupting the process of election of persons of their choice.
He also called upon parents and guardians to prevail on their wards to resist any attempt to use them as canon fodders for political upheavals and thuggery. They should consider their lives and future to be as precious as the lives of the children of contestants who never join in the violent activities that they are recruited to carry out. We must keep up our prayers for a peaceful, free and fair elections.
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