By Sam Eyoboka
CATHOLIC Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the recent court judgment in Adamawa State which sentenced five Christian youths to death for alleged murder.
The archbishop says President Buhari “needs to consider the social import of this judgment and the social impact that it would have if the young men are put to death.”
He therefore advised the President to distance himself from any attempt to carry out the sentence.
The youths, Alex Amos, Alheri Phanuel, Holy Boniface, Jerry Gideon and Jari Sabagi, were convicted by Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri of Adamawa High Court for attacking three herdsmen at Kadamun village in Demsa Local Government Area of the state, killing one, Adamu Buba, and maiming two others and several cattle.
According to Archbishop Martins, rather than assenting to the death sentence, an action which, he said, was capable of plunging the nation further into another round of unnecessary religious tension, ”the President must be seen to be fair, objective and purposeful in resolving the herdsmen crisis by ensuring that justice was done to all victims across board.”
The Prelate said that the manner that the five Christian youths were tried and handed the death sentence was rather quick raises suspicion in a situation in which cases of the murder of such high-profile figures as the late Chief Bola Ige and Chief Alfred Rewane among others have remained mysteries for so long.
Such an action, he cautioned, ”was capable of sending the unhealthy signal that the apparatus of the state is also being used to kill people whose kith and kin are already being murdered by criminal elements in the country.
“I am not in any way excusing the action of the young men since it is not right to take laws into their hands. However, the killing they have been convicted of did not happen in a vacuum and so it is necessary to put the social cost of going ahead to carry out the sentence of the court into consideration.
“People are already asking: ‘Why has a similar measure of seriousness not been applied to arresting and bringing the killer herdsmen who have been murdering people in cold blood over these past years to justice? What has happened to the killers of the Ukpor-Mbalom 19, for instance?’
“Is it that they are above the law or they are spirits such that Security Operatives have not been able to apprehend them not to talk of bringing them to justice? What is happening to Leah Sharibu etc?
“Our President, as the father of all, has the moral duty of ensuring equity in the dispensation of justice, speedy justice must be seen to be done to all irrespective of religion or any other primordial consideration.
“The President has the constitutional power to bring all these unnecessary crises to a halt by insisting that the various arms of government to do the right thing. At present, what we are seeing, seems to be selective justice at play and this will take us nowhere,” Martins maintained.
Meanwhile the Archbishop has also re-iterated his earlier call on the Federal Government to compensate families of the Ukpor-Mbalom 19 and other victims of the herdsmen crisis across the country in order to bring about reconciliation.
He further said that what the nation needs at the moment are actions, gestures and policies aimed at dousing the charged political and religious tension in the country so as to foster unity amongst the people in the ethnic and religious divide.