Pope Francs on October 25, 2020, expressed his hope for peace in Nigeria, which has been the scene in recent days of violent confrontations between police and protesters.
The Holy Father’s appeal came after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“I am following with particular concern the news coming from Nigeria, regarding the violent clashes that have recently occurred between law enforcement and several young protesters.,” Pope Francis said. “Let us pray to the Lord that any form of violence may always be avoided, in the constant search for social harmony through the promotion of justice and the common good.”
In the latest developments, Nigeria’s top police official on Saturday ordered the immediate mobilization of all officers to “reclaim the public space from criminal elements masquerading as protesters”, according to Vatican News.
His order came after days of peaceful protests over police abuses and then violent unrest that left at least 69 people dead.
There are fears this latest police order could fuel further tensions after the country’s worst turmoil in years.
The demonstrations in Nigeria and the shootings by soldiers sparked immediate international condemnation, Vatican News said.
The protests, which feature many young people, began with calls for a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), to be shut down. Now demonstrators are calling for broader reforms in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari disbanded the unit on October 7, which has been accused of torture and extra-judicial killings.
The new police order came as a 24-hour curfew loosened for the first time Saturday in Lagos, a city of some 20 million where wealth and poverty are in sharp contrast, inflaming grievances over inequality and corruption.