Cosmas Omegoh, Lagos
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr Alfred Adewale Martins has urged all Nigerians to join hands together to build a strong, united, peaceful, progressive nation in the year 2020.
He said the need to forge a more peaceful and united country in the New Year has become much more desirable at this period of our national life, in order to curb the numerous divisive tendencies that have held the country hostage for years and hindered it from attaining real growth and development.
In his 2020 New Year message to Nigerians made available through the Director of Social Communications, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins equally charged the Federal, States and Local Governments to live above board by being sincere in their approach to governance and formulating only policies that would be in the best interests of majority of the citizens.
While expressing satisfaction with the recent release of Omoyele Sowore and Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) from the custody of the DSS, Archbishop Martins said that such a gesture should be extended to all detainees who have been granted bail by the courts. He argued that that would go a long way in changing the perception of the Federal Government in some quarters as undermining the integrity of the courts by flagrant disobedience of court judgements.
“I send my sincere best wishes and prayers to all Nigerians as we enter into a new decade in 2020. We pray that peace and tranquillity will reign in our country. The year 2019 has been one with many challenges. The challenges led to the call for a revolution by Omoyele Sowore. All that happened thereafter are part of our history now. However, we thank God that after so much pressure, the Attorney General of the country finally directed the DSS to release Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki. That is the way to go! However, we are aware that there are a number of people, including Sheik El Zakzaky, that are still being detained even after they have been granted bail by the courts. In the spirit of the New Year, which I believe should usher in attitudes of reconciliation, harmony and peace, we appeal to the government of President Buhari to once again take the bold step of instructing the release of all of them. By so doing, the government would be sending a strong signal to all and sundry that she is truly committed to the rule of law. Having sworn to act within the provisions of the constitution at all times, the government should do the right thing concerning court judgements even before internal and external pressure force things to happen.”
He equally reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his promise to work towards effecting the release of Leah Sharibu who is still being held captive by members of the Boko Haram, saying her release would be a pleasant New Year gift to Nigerians.
Archbishop Martins described as sad, unfortunate and barbaric the recent report of the beheading of 11 Christians whom ISWAP had abducted and held captive. While appealing for restraint in their reaction to this provocative action, he pleads with the Federal Government to put more decisive measures in place in order to curb the lingering cases of insecurity in the country in the New Year. He also appealed to well-meaning Muslims to work with Christians and others in order to stamp out these atrocities carried out in the name of Allah.
On ways of dousing religious tension in the country in the New Year, the Prelate said: “We appeal for a peaceful co-existence amongst Christians and Muslims that respects freedom of association and worship in all parts of the country. No one has a right to disturb anyone else from worshipping God as they please. Religious leaders must always remind their faithful that Nigeria is a secular country by our constitution and they must discourage any fanatic tendencies that lead to religious intolerance and bigotry among them.”
Finally, the Archbishop wishes all Nigerians a truly blessed and fruitful 2020 praying for peace and unity of the nation.