By Eric Elezuo and Promise Oshewa Photos: Ajibade Morakinyo and Ken Ehimen
In response to a call to protest the incessant killings, kidnappings and continuous lawlessness in the country, faithful of the Catholic Church, Lagos State division, turned out in their numbers to make register their displeasure.
As early as 7am Tuesday, Catholics from all over Lagos State have started gathering at the Leo’s Catholic Church on Toyin Street, Ikeja from where the mammoth crowd, who were separated in groups and led by distinct priests, matched through Toyin Street to Opebi Roundabout, from where they connected Allen Avenue through Awolowo Road enroute Alausa, where they were expected to have audience with the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Bearing placards, most of which read ‘Stop this killing now’ ‘Nigerians Deserve Quality Healthcare’ ‘What is My Crime’ ‘Life is Sacred’ Enough of this Madness’ among many others, the protesters marched through the streets of Lagos chanting religious songs one of which was ‘Love Your Neighbour as Yourself’.
In the crowd of protesters were the young and old, the very young and the very old; those that were helped to walked, even those who protested from the comfort of their mothers back. From the Ikeja Deanery to Maryland, Ikorodu, FESTAC and all corners of Lagos State the faithful came to answer the clarion call.
At the Lagos House where the crowd of protesters were received, the Governor of Lagos State was nowhere to be found. The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Religious Affairs, Hon Benjamin Adeyemi and his counterpart from Commerce, Hon Adeyemi Olabinjo, received the delegates, who were led by the Archbishop of Lagos Diocese, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins.
Addressing the Catholic faithful, Hon Adeyemi, who said Governor Ambode was ‘busy’ at the time, thanked the protesters for their orderly conduct, and pledged that their grievances will channeled to the appropriate quarters.
“The governor also is a Christian, but he is busy at the moment with official business. I will deliver your plea to him. If you want to book an appointment, it is not all these people that will see him;please talk to your people and I promise to get back to you as soon as I deliver your message,” he said.
In his response, Archbishop Martins expressed his displeasure at the inability of the governor to receive them in person, saying that the governor was well briefed on the visit.
“We did send a letter to the governor and that is why we are here on the street,a and the absence of the governor is implying another message to the people,” Archbishop Martins said
He however calmed the disappointed members, asking them to go back to their parishes ‘since the SA has given his word’.
The Catholic body of the Nigeria has called out its members for a protest against the incessant killings across the country.
The protests take place nationwide.