POPE Francis I has intervened in the ongoing crisis in Nigeria by calling for prayers over the current violence and widespread looting that has spread nationwide across the country asking that peace be returned.
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. Now, the Catholic pontiff has added his voice to the matter, asking for prayers to end the violence.
Pope Francis said: ”Let us pray to the Lord for Nigeria, so that every form of violence might always be avoided in the constant search of social harmony through the promotion of justice and the common good.”
On Saturday, in Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital, serving and past senators had their homes vandalised and looted by hoodlums. A similar situation occurred in Oyo State, where hoodlums invaded the home of a senator, looting motorcycles, food items, consumer goods, etc.
Other global figures and organisations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), have spoken about the violence. ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said: “My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies.
“Any loss of life or injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed.”
President Muhammadu Buhari spoke to the nation on Thursday about the violence but failed to address key issues, including the Lekki Toll Gate shooting. He added that his government was working to meet the demands of the protesters and appealed for an end to the violence.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has announced the appointment of 13 new cardinals on Sunday, including archbishops from the US, Rwanda and the Philippines. These appointments will be formalised in a consistory, a meeting of cardinals, on November 28.