The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos and the Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins and His Eminence Humphrey Bamishebi Olumakaiye respectively, have warned that Nigeria may go into disintegration if the nation’s leadership and the citizens generally continue to pervert justice, relish in unfair treatment and unrighteousness towards one another.
The spiritual leaders who gave the warning in their Easter messages issued separately to journalists in Lagos over the weekend. Archbishop Martins, in particular, advised Nigerians from all walks of life to unite and work assiduously to build a peaceful and united country, particularly even at this period of growing insecurity, fear and anxiety in the land.
In his Easter Message signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins also called on the country’s leadership at all levels to be more proactive and sincere in tackling the numerous challenges plaguing the nation such as insecurity, endemic corruption, economic woes, ethnic agitations, worsening unemployment, amongst several others.
He warned that failure to urgently address the problems would plunge the entire nation on the path of disintegration.
While congratulating Christians and indeed all Nigerians on the successful completion of the 40 day Lenten season, a period set aside to prepare them for the celebration of Easter, he urged all Christians to allow the spiritual gains of the season and to continue to take effect in their daily lives.
Martins also stressed the need for all Nigerians to continue to live in true brotherhood, adding, that “this can only be reinforced when there is love, mutual respect and tolerance, care for human life and promotion of justice for all of God’s children as taught by Jesus Christ and as he demonstrated in his life in this world.”
Archbishop Martins expressed dismay over what he termed the failure of those in government to address the grave discontent across the land and the inability of security agencies to nip the activities of criminals in the bud, and identify their sponsors.
He said that the growing restlessness in the land and the perceived inability of government to address major contentious issues of national importance, could well herald a deadlier wave of disaffection than that of the ENDSARS protest of last October.
“We give thanks to the Almighty God for yet another opportunity to celebrate the risen Lord at this Easter celebration despite the global pandemic.
The fact that we are still among the living at this time is a privilege. It shows that God still has some special purpose for us as individuals and as a nation.
“These are indeed challenging times, and we cannot and should not remain complacent to the demands of the times. All of us, the leadership and the followership have a date with destiny; to build a country we all can be proud of.
In the first instance, our leaders need to work more assiduously towards offering good governance for which they were elected in the first instance.
“They must show more sincerity and resilience in their fight against insecurity and provide the enabling environment for all hardworking and progressive minded citizens to profit from their honest hard work without any form of harassment or intimidation.
All criminals, be they bandits, kidnappers or herdsmen must be made to face the law.
“There should be no selective justice. A situation whereby only a few privileged Nigerians close to those in authority seem to be enjoying all the goodies at the expense of the majority does not augur well for our collective wellbeing.
No individual or ethnic group should be above the law or made to feel superior or more privileged than others. There should be equity and justice for all; after all, the country belongs to all of us,” he stressed.
Archbishop Martins then called on Nigerians to actively seek to hold their elected public officers accountable for good governance, within the provision of the rule of law.
Nigerians must put pressure on the Federal Government to deal with situations that have led non-state actors into taking the security of their communities in their hands thereby fueling ethnic tensions and the resultant problems.
For his own part, the Anglican Bishop of Lagos, His Eminence Olymakaiye likened Nigeria’s case to the situation that played out during the trial of Jesus Christ where Jewish people rejected the Lord of Peace and requested the Barnabas the Robber be released to them.
Speaking during his Easter message titled: “Give Us Barnabas,”
Olymakaiye said: “We see the cry for evil to prevail over good.
We behold with utter amazement and bewilderment the cry to choose terrorism, insecurity over peace and progress. We gaze with utter disappointment at the cry to reject the Prince of Peace for a robber and insurgent!
Behind this most devious cry lies the greediness and wicked trickeries of corrupt politicians, religious leaders and judges of men who were bent to hold on to their power bases and wealth rather than choosing the path of righteousness, peace and social justice for their followers. ”
This scene, though, occurred two thousand years ago, perfectly mirrored the sad sociopolitical events that have been unfolding in our Nation, Nigeria for a number of years now. Indeed, the event of Good Friday, chiefly of the trial of Jesus, is such a fascinating and heartbreaking text to study and our consideration of it is apt in the light of persistent triumph of evil over good in our nation, Nigeria,”
Olumakaiye added. The Bishop emphasised that the trial of Jesus was miscarriage of justice in the highest order.
“The wrongness and fallacies inherent was audible to the. Deaf and visible to the blind. Yet, in this moment of utter miscarriage of justice, we see a familiar pattern that men in power will go to every length to pervert justice in order to preserve their power and ambition.
When we are quick to lay blame to this flawed Jewish judicial procedure, we must carefully examine the way justice has been handled in our nation in the last twelve months. In the light of Good Friday, we as a nation must repent and let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
“As people, the cry of the Spirit is for us to return to the Lord…to return to practice of justice in all strata of our lives…to return Martins Olumakaiye to genuine care of our people.
For we who are placed in positions of authority are there to preserve and sustain justice. We are there to champion the cause of justice, righteousness and mercy.
In the light of the event of today, we are to repent and truly return to do our duties to God, man and fatherland,” Olumakaiye further advised.
According to the Archbishop, the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus were blinded by hatred, motivated by greed and propelled by jealousy and evil of demonic proportions.
“They were bent to sniff out life out of what is good and give credence to evil!
They did all for personal gains, to maintain wealth, fame and power.
They mirrored our present day politicians and leaders, who also in their greed were bent to maintain wealth, fame and power for personal gains.
‘It is such a sad case that we now have a Federal Government that is seemingly insensitive to the plight of common man on the street.
The whole nation has been ravaged by violence, kidnapping and insecurity. When it is expected that the Boko Haram insurgents who were captured be seriously dealt with, it is robust amnesty programmes that are being offered to them. It looks like “Give us Barabbas” all over again!
From what we learn in this text, the path of “Give us Barabbas” did not end well for the Jewish leaders, Pilate and the people.
It is high time our government retraced its steps to focus on securing life and properties, revamping the economic sector, and investing in education of the teeming young ones.
This Good Friday is therefore, a clarion call for national repentance! God is giving us another chance to reject ‘Barabbas’ and choose the Life and Peace,” Olumakaiye added.