#ENDSARS: How the Church, clerics joined the movement against brutality and injustice

The rage of youths in the country in the last two weeks over the clamour for discontinue of brutality of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has generated reactions from all corners. Even the Church is not left out in the movement as ADEOLA OTEMADE, captures the position of the church over the incident.

The paroxysm of youths on the streets of Nigeria over the brutality of the Nigerian Police Force since last week has continued to raise more dust as it has drawn the attention of international bodies and state governors and even the Church seems to not be left out in the peaceful protests staged virtually in all parts of the country.

The position of the Church in the ENDSARS protest that has become the order of the day in Nigeria, indeed, indicated that the youths are not alone in the protest train as some church leaders, gospel musicians and Christians across the country have joined forces to condemn the unjust and unlawful acts of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), one unit in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Nigeria Police Force over the years.

Notable clerics have made their position known on the current situation of the country; some also publicly gave their support to the ongoing protest and at the same time appealed to the government to act on what the youths are clamoring for as a matter of urgency. Tribune Church gathered that some concerned Christians also staged prayer walk in some parts of the country.

Meanwhile, it is on record that the Senior Pastor of the Potters House, Dallas, USA, Bishop TD Jakes, on the foreign scene; the General Overseer of the Redeem Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; founder of Latter Rain Ministry, Pastor Tunde Bakare; Senior Pastor of the Daystar Christian Centre, Pastor Sam Adeyemi; Diocesan Bishop of Lagos (Anglican Communion) Rt. Reverend Humphrey Olumakaiye and a host of other notable clerics have lend their voices on the burning issue.

According to TD Jakes, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly, adding that, “what is going on presently in Nigeria is a major concern to the whole world.

He urged the government to listen to the grievances of the people and bring an end to the brutality and abuse of power by men of the Nigerian Police Force by scrapping SARS and not only to re-structure the police, but to also re-orientate them.

In his own view, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, appealed to the government to heed to the request of the youths.

“Killing of innocent young lives will not only affect the country, but damage the future of the country. I want to plead with the government to do that which is right and just. Our daughters will not be able to prophecy and our men will not be able to see visions if we don’t keep them alive,” he added.

Adding to Adeboye’s recommendation, the church in a press release that went viral and signed by the Assistant General Overseer of the church, Pastor Johnson Odesola, stated that the Nigerian youths has the full support to the clamour for change as regards the brutality of the Nigerian Police Force.

“The church welcomes the disbandment of the SARS, and queries the establishment of a new outfit called the Special Weapon and Tactics Team shouldn’t be the case of old wine in a new bottle. We urge the government to take urgent steps in tackling the rising rate of unemployment, decay in the educational and other vices that seems to have eaten deep into the system of governance,” he added.

Sharing his personal experience with SARS officials, Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Pastor Poju Oyemade, revealed that social media recognition was his saving grace from the den of embattled security personnel, while he also joined his voices with other clerics to express his displeasure towards the brutality of the Nigerian Police Force.

Oyemade noted that he quite understands the plight of the youths and that with the recent happenings; it showed that the youth of the country needs a government that would be accountable to them.

“Over the past one week, I have quietly listened to the voice of the younger generation. It has become clear to everyone that the youths in Nigeria have found their voice and activated their energy for massive social reforms in Nigeria.

Their bravery, commitment and the leadership they have shown with high degree of accountability shows these are serious minded people and intelligent group of people.

The government may have in unprecedented manner come out to verbally assent to the request of the movement, but what the government need to realise now is what they ask for is action.There needs to be a change in ourapproach of leadership becasue this generation can no longer be led this way.” he said.

Pastor Sam Adeyemi instead called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to heed to the cries of the youths as well as feel their pains and frustrations. He also urged the president to make firm decisions and act.

“It is therefore deplorable that we lead a government which the police would throw teargas, water and shoot at peaceful protesters. Most of this young generation did not grow under colonial and military rule, they have tools and mindset we did not have and they will solve problems differently. Only true leadership that serve the people will work now,” he added.

On his part of the founder of Latter Rain Ministry, Pastor Tunde Bakare expressed his displeasure towards the situation of Nigeria at the moment as the protest seems to be getting stronger each day. He noted that the agitations of the youths for a better system of government, accountability and good governance is long overdue.

According to him, young and older Nigerians from walks of life, across the length and breadth of the nation and diaspora are united in rejecting the harassment, humiliation and cold blooded murder of their fellow citizens.

“I recognise this movement for what is; a wholesome rejection of the barrage of needless frustrations and degradation that defines the Nigerian experience. There is a threshold of decency below which no human being must fall, and reject any status quo where citizens become disposable or the right to life becomes negotiable. I applaud the resilience of protesters in the face of yet more reckless cruelty, and I am increasingly confident that this generation will succeed where mine has failed.”

Meanwhile, he also he acknowledged the efforts of the presidency, state government, the national and state assemblies and the Nigerian Police force (NPF) for their response towards the protest and how they intend to restore balance and order in the country.

For Pastor Paul Enenche of the Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Abuja, the current happenings in the country is beyond the #ENDSARS protest. He noted that it was a reaction to general problem in the country, just as he noted that true change is the way forward.

“There is a limit to which the human spirit and mind can cope with oppression. Our people are easy going and excitable. We have very long endurance capacity. Hard to complain as if we have been wired to endure all manner of oppression and nepotistic operation and where there is visible oppression from one segment of the country and trying to dominate by force and taking strategic positions everywhere. People have been quiet for a very long time and they say that they cannot be quiet no more. The solution is not to resist them by force, but for things to change urgently.

Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Apostle Johnson Suleman, advocated for the youths of the country saying that, “The Nigerian youth must have a future in Nigeria. I stand with them. Those meant to maintain law can’t be lawless.”

The Senior Pastor of House on the Rock Church, Pastor Paul, expressed his heartfelt concern towards the ongoing protest in the country, saying that the demand and clamour to end SARS and subsequent demand for justice from young people in response to years of profiling, bullying, extortion and sheer brutality by a rogue element of our law enforcement, is an unassailable cry, signalling the need for sweeping reforms in policing in Nigeria should not be ignored by the government.

He noted that the present development in the country has underscored the fact that Nigerian youth have now found their unified voice and are using it to seek for positive change in our polity.

The Diocesan Bishop of Lagos (Anglican Communion) Right Reverend Dr. Humphrey Olumakaiye, in his reaction said the current happenings in the country is indicating that Nigeria is moving towards the age where a child of nobody can become somebody and an age where justice would be served equally and accountability can be ensured.

“We are bold to say that we are tilting towards a Nigeria where a child of nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody. A society built on merit and ingenuity; a society where moral values count; a society where the sanctity of life is held in the highest esteem by the government security personnel and fellow citizens; a society where one tribe will not be at the mercy of another and a society where politics will not be money-driven,” he said.

The Diocesan Bishop of Ibadan (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Joseph Akinfenwa also identified with the youths clamouring for a total change.

To him, the bold step the youths of the country had taken will, no doubt, change the country. “The state of the nation needs to take a new and different course and the youths have woken up to fight for their rights and clamouring for the end of police brutality and transparency in governance,” he added.

According to him, “no nation can make progress in an atmosphere of  chaos and anarchy. Lets us all join hands to promote peace in our nation and as we encourage our government to defend justice and fair play. The #ENDSARS protest could be an opportunity to move things forward and bring a great change to our country if we do things rightly and do it quickly,” he said.

Tribune Church also gathered that gospel artistes have also expressed serious concern as well as lend their voices in the trend of the protest. Some have also suspended their music concerts and album launches indefinitely in order to identify with fellow youths in the country.

Popular gospel musician Sammie Okposo, who also took part in the protest, urged the protesters to be resilience in the exercise. He noted that Nigerian Police are not the only problems in Nigeria bad governance. “We are not fighting against them, but we are fighting for our rights. According to him, when the country becomes a better place for everyone to live in, there won’t be need for extortion, bribery, and corruption and the police can adequately carry out their jobs without fairly,” he said.

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