The Catholic Church has warned that the ethnic profiling and violence that marred the just-concluded elections in Lagos State, if not promptly checked, could truncate the peaceful co-existence of residents in the state.
Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins in a statement issued in Lagos condemned in very strong terms all forms of ethnic profiling, provocative utterances, and incidents of violence witnessed in some parts of Lagos state, before, during and after the recent elections.
The Archbishop, in a statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, described as unfortunate and unacceptable, the tension, hate speech and violence, especially before and after the recent Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in some parts of the state.
The prelate urged the state government, as a matter of urgency, to call all parties to order and to put in place a machinery for the quick restoration of peace and normalcy. In the same vein, he implored law enforcement agencies to safeguard the lives and properties of all residents irrespective of tribe, religion, or ethnic group.
Archbishop Martins also urged the residents of Lagos to remain calm and not allow themselves to be divided against their neighbours.
According to him, “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 peace-loving, accommodating and cosmopolitan, including by 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 line, is not conducive to good neighbourliness 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 man-made 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”, he added.
While commiserating with families that lost their loved ones and persons whose properties were destroyed in the violence in the state and across the country, Archbishop Martins also urged law enforcement agencies to do the needful where offences have been committed, as part of efforts to facilitate a national healing process.