By Lawrence Enyoghasu
Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins believes that human lives, irrespective of religion or country is the property of an individual which should not be touched. The Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, spoke on the failure of government to protect the lives of its citizens. He also warned that the local killings in the country are warning signs to end the influence of the Christian race, adding that Nigerians should pray for those who are sick and saddled with the responsibility to paddle the affairs of the country.
His Grace, what is your take on the southern Kaduna killings?
The killing is unexplainable. Honestly, the violence in Southern Kaduna is definitely an indication of the kind of fears and concerns of the security of this country, particularly concerning the security of Christians in their own country. Well, we tend to believe that there are some people who are trying to cut down on the influence of Christianity and one may not be a prophet but that leaves one with a very bad impression of our leaders particularly, if the government that has the responsibility of securing people is not doing as much as expected. I will like to use the opportunity to call on government at all levels to take control of the situation, as the peddlers of the violence there go into the villages and kill defenseless citizens and then run away. They are not in the city; they are out there in the farms making lives miserable for them. These things create a lot of concerns and need to be addressed.
Some people have said that these helpless citizens should defend themselves and the authority has frowned at it?
The fact of the matter is that it is a principle of life that everyone has a right to defend himself or herself. It is a principle that life is sacred and everyone is entitled to protect his own life. Despite the fact that we have been telling our people that they must not be aggressive but certainly if anybody’s life is under threat, not only Christians, everyone at all who feels his life is under threat has a right to defend himself and ensure that he preserves his life but more than any other thing, it is the responsibility of government to preserve the life of its citizens and if they are not doing it, the international community may put pressure on government and security agencies to ensure that the lives and property of the people are protected.
On the on-going corruption fight, do you think it is one-sided and do you think the government should strike a deal with the alleged looters?
I think no one can fault the drive to stop corruption. I think a fight against corruption is a fight that is justified in very many ways and no one can dispute that. What I can say is that anyone that is fighting corruption should first make sure that he or she is not in the web and make sure that the fight is one level to anyone and everyone that is involved. On the other hand, before you take up a fight like corruption, make sure that there is no hunger in the country and make sure that there are structures in place to really ensure that people are not encouraged to go into corrupt activities and if they engage in it, they will be caught and dealt with according to the law. If there is good life, nobody will think about corruption. So, as the fight against corruption continues, the government must make sure that there are structures in place to discourage cut backs. And that these structures are functional and allowed to work in such a way that the people trust it. It is not only in Nigeria that there is corruption, there is also corruption in all the parts of the world, name it; USA, London and so on. There are acts of corruption in those places but the structures in place make people who are corrupt to be first identified and that the system itself deals with them, if they are caught. I think we need that more than just individuals that we go after, that is not to say that it is not appropriate to go after the individuals who are corrupt to get the money from them. This system of whistle blowing that we are running now seems to be catching on and bearing some fruit but whatever, it is paramount that government should make the fight even; anyone and everyone ensures that it putS structures in place and whatever that is recovered should be invested in the welfare of the citizen of this nation.
What is your take on the tension in the country and in South Africa over the xenophobic attack?
The first thing that one must say is that certainly, it is out of order for any set of people to attempt to take the laws into their hands, and if they do so, it is more reprehensible if the security agencies are looking on as if they are in support. One must make that point and add that if it continues to happen, then the government is to be held responsible for the outcome. This is not the first time it happened in South Africa and everybody condemned it. It is time for our government to ensure that the government and people of South Africa recognize that we may be big brother of Africa but they should not take Nigerians and Nigeria for granted. I believe that government should insist that anytime something like this happens, the victims should receive compensation, indeed they should ensure that it does not happen at all. But if it does happen, they all must take it as responsibility to compensate everyone, and of course, if people go and commit crime, let them be tried by the law. But if people start to take the laws into their hands, before we knew it, it will create bad blood, like the reprisal that you are talking about now,. This is because two wrongs don’t make a right anyway but if government is not seen to be making efforts to ameliorate the situation, then you will find it difficult to preach the same gospel all the time.
What is your advice for the season of lent?
The season is of grace that we have failed to acknowledge. It is a time that all sins are forgiven and prayers answered. It is a season we have to pray for our country and all that are sick and weak. It is a season for personal sacrifice no matter how small we can do it. It is a season that Catholics and Christians practise their faith. It might be hard for some people to practise their faith in the country but I pray that the lord will find a way to give them succour.
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