The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed sadness over what it described as the “unfortunate wastage of lives” of unarmed young Nigerians who were protesting at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.
The association has, however, called for peace and calm.
The President of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, who expressed the shock at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja, said that soldiers had no business with the peaceful protesters.
Ayokunle said that although the military had denied being responsible for the killings in spite of some glaring evidence and eyewitness accounts, the soldiers’ presence at the scene of the incident did not help their matter.
“Whoever ordered the shooting of unarmed citizens on legitimate protest in a democracy for whatever reason has crossed the red line and has caused more pains for this nation and many parents of these young and promising Nigerians, who would have been Nigeria’s future glory.
“In very strong terms, CAN condemns the dastardly and callous act. It is a minus for our democracy and a scar to be remembered for ever.
“On the other hand, we appeal to all Nigerians that the arson, wanton destruction of property and infrastructure that have followed the killings, though one understands that they came out of the provocative killings, should stop.
“It would further inflict pains on fellow Nigerians who are either working in those facilities or deprive them the benefits which those facilities are providing on daily basis,” he said.
“One of such critical facilities is the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) buses which is providing ease of movement to Lagos workers on daily basis.
“Ours is a special appeal, as spiritual fathers, priests and prophets to the nation, for calm to allow comprehensive peaceful resolution of this situation.
“An adage says, ‘cutting of one’s head can never be the right medication for headache’.
“From the side of the government, let there be humility; the response to the protest by what happened on Tuesday night at Lekki Tollgate was not good at all.”
Ayokunle urged the government to make soothing efforts to calm nerves in the nation and assure all Nigerians that such action would never happen again, while addressing all the agitations of the youth.
He also advised the government to bring the “trigger-happy uniformed men” who killed the protesters to book, so as to ensure that those whose lives were wasted got justice.
The CAN president called for effective dialogue among all the relevant stakeholders, especially opinion leaders such as traditional rulers, religious leaders and leaders of various youth groups and others.
Ayokunle underscored the need for the bodies to come together to proffer solutions to what he described as a “great threat to our nationhood”.
“Wisdom is required and urgently too, so that things may not deteriorate further. We send our condolences to all the families who have lost their loved ones prematurely in this unfortunate incident. We pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit for them all.
“We advise the government to compile the list of those killed nationwide during this protest, especially those shot dead on Tuesday, and compensate their families, as a way of identifying with them and ameliorating the pains of the irreparable loss.
“It is our prayer that our country will rise from this terrible experience to be a better nation, where the law enforcement agents are humane and thoroughly professional in the discharge of their duties,” he said.
Ayokunle said: “We should also be able to witness how our democracy will become a democracy that will bring the dividends of growth and prosperity to all in the nation.
“We shall not cease in praying for our leaders and our beloved nation, Nigeria.”