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#EndSARS: Catholic Bishops condemn Lekki shooting, urge FG to stabilise Nigeria

CATHOLIC Bishops of Nigeria have joined other Nigerians to condemn the shooting of ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, calling on the Federal Government to ensure the country is stabilised.

Augustine Akubeze, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), who spoke on behalf of the Bishops in a statement made available to The ICIR on Saturday, stated that they (the Bishops) stand with the youths who are legitimately crying for Justice.

“We, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, have observed with keen interest and fervent prayers the #Endsars movement of many Nigerian youths over the last two weeks in protest in our cities and highways, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality and a reformed society for their fatherland,” he said.

“With many other Nigerians across the nation, we stand with these youths and everyone who legitimately cries for justice.”

He said the Conference had watched in the last few days how certain youth groups alleged to be sponsored by the government or its sympathizers, infiltrated the group of peaceful protesters and openly dared and threatened to visit violence on them and disrupted their gathering.

Akubeze added that it was clearly in the interest of the Federal Government, and of the entire nation, to ensure that the youths were not turned against each other.

“The climax of such disruptive tactics was the unfortunate and tragic events that occurred in the evening of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, when some protesters were gunned down by armed men in military uniform, widely alleged to be members of the nation’s security forces,” he said.

“We condemn in the strongest words, the belittling, by these armed men, of the rights of citizens to peaceful assembly. With very heavy hearts, we respect the memory of those Nigerian youths who fell victim to this shameful tragedy that has drawn the attention of the entire international community.”

Akabueze said the CBCN was calling upon the government to take full responsibility for stabilising the country and restoring hope and confidence in its ability to lead the nation away from this disaster.

“We encourage the government to seek the best form of dialogue, so as to present to the nation, short, medium and long term solutions to this crisis.

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“Positive and progressive minds in the country, including members of the political parties not in government, the wider civil society, including the religious and traditional institutions and the youths themselves, should be engaged in a round table discussion, so that a way forward can be effectively charted.”

The CBCN President, however, prayed to God to grant eternal rest to the slain youths and comfort their parents, relatives, and friends.

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