ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church Rt Reverend Justin Welby has described the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos last week as an outrage that should be condemned by all.
Last Tuesday, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, killing several of them. This cold blooded murder sparked a national outrage across the country and people have since taken to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
Internationally, the Nigerian government has come under fierce criticism for the way it has handled the matter. Yesterday, Pope Francis 1 added his voice to the matter, asking for prayers to end the violence and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has joined in the condemnation of the killings.
Apparently, the Lekki shooting and another in Alausa, near the secretariat of the Lagos State government, led at least 13 people to their graves while many sustained varying degrees of injuries, according to Amnesty International. Although the killings have been condemned by all and sundry, both the Lagos State and federal governments have refused to take responsibility for the shooting.
Reverend Welby said: “The deliberate shooting of unarmed protestors in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria last week was an outrage. I say this as a human being, as a Christian and as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which counts some 18m Nigerians as part of our global family.
“I also say this as a British citizen, knowing that in our recent colonial past the UK has committed appalling acts of violence. Just over a year ago, I visited the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, India, where a great number of Sikhs, as well as Hindus, Muslims and Christians were shot dead by British troops in 1919.
“I had no status to apologise on behalf of the British government for that atrocity but I could speak of my shame, sorrow and horror that it happened. And while I absolutely have no place to lecture or rebuke Nigeria, a country that is very dear to my heart, I can say this, learn from our mistakes, do not go further down the path of violence and injustice. Turn around and find the path of peace, justice and reconciliation.”
He added that this is a time for all those who play a role in the political and civil leadership of Nigeria to be heroes for the common good. According to the archbishop, this is a time to sacrifice ambition, to set aside party, to unite to serve in order that Nigerians from the richest to poorest may flourish.
“I am not speaking of a national government, a single non-party approach but of a national determination, agreement and declaration that there will be a common effort for the common good of the nation. I am talking of a willingness to give everything and sacrifice everything, position, place, ideas, wealth, from the highest to the lowest.
“I appeal for a sacrifice that will raise the nation, bring hope and set a course for prosperity and a glowing future. Democratic politics must continue, the abandonment of democracy would worsen the crisis but let all involved agree to meet the basic needs of Nigeria,” Reverend Welby added.
A close friend of President Muhammadu Buhari, Reverend Welby also spoke on the need to provide security, food and shelter for the people of Nigeria. He added that they are not privileges of the rich or middle class, although in so many countries that is the tragic reality.