Lagos—A COALITION of Igbo Organisations in Lagos (CIO) and the Traditional Council of Eze Ndi Igbo in the state, yesterday, said the Oba of Lagos, HRM, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu II, should be held responsible if any harm befalls the Igbo now, during and after Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.
According to them, the Monarch’s comments, on Sunday, that the Igbo would perish in Lagos Lagoon within seven days if they did not vote Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate and his anointed standard bearer are threats of well-orchestrated genocide against Igbo not only in Lagos but also in all parts of the country.
The CIO, at a meeting held at National Stadium, Lagos, addressed by Prince Andy Moore Ezejioha (Ndigbo Equity and Justice Initiative), Prince Solomon Ify Ominyi (Igbo Justice Congress) and Chief Amobi Moghalu among others said the Oba’s statement ‘’is clearly a threat to life and security of Igbo living in Lagos in this election season and afterwards… it is an incursion on the right of Igbo to freely vote for the candidate of their choice in the election and is not only meant to give Ambode undue advantage but also to cow Igbo into political slavery.
‘’This is where the CIO is concerned. We henceforth call on Igbo to come out en mass to prove the royal father wrong by voting for the candidate of their choice. While we call on the Police and other security agencies to fortify all polling booths in Lagos to ensure that voters are not molested or intimidated, we further state that we shall hold His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu responsible if harm befalls any Igbo person in any circumstances in this 2015 election season and beyond.’’
Also, the Traditional Council of Eze Ndi Igbo in Lagos, in a statement by Eze Dr Anthony Elui (Chairman) and Chief John Uche (Igbo Leaders delegate) viewed the Oba’s threat ‘’with every iota of seriousness, as well conceived, with adequate modalities in place for achieving same and perfected by the monarch, as such statement was made out of the abundance of the heart as against being proverbial as subsequent interveners will want to paint it.
‘’It is a clandestine and calculated attempt to wipe out the Igbo indigenes in Lagos and in Nigeria as a whole. It is totally unacceptable and more instigating having emanated from a first class and supposedly respectable first class monarch.
‘’We call on the monarch to retract the said statement forthwith and tender an unreserved apology to the Igbo in Lagos. The monarch should also assure the Igbo in Lagos as to the safety of their lives and properties. It is only by doing these things that we the Council of Eze Ndi Igbo of Lagos State will be assured that our people are safe. Otherwise, we shall be forced to seek appropriate legal protection locally and internationally for our people in Lagos.’’
Don’t succumb to threat, WIC tells Ndigbo in Lagos
The World Igbo Congress (WIC), the umbrella organization of Ndigbo in the Diaspora, told Ndigbo residing in Lagos State not to be intimidated by any form of threat because they are guaranteed of equal protection of the law like every other Nigerian as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
In a joint statement by Larry Udorji (chairman), Cyril Nwaguru (secretary-general) and Jimmy Asiegbu (public relations officer), the group noted that Igbo in Lagos deserve an apology from Oba over his threat.
WIC said: ‘’We call on those who have the ears of Oba Rilwan Akiolu to be guided accordingly and contain his excesses as the Igbo will no longer condone the ignorance and primordial sentiments that informed such dastardly initiatives as the Abandoned Property saga in a country that is purported to be ‘One Nation with One Destiny.’
“We hereby put the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman A. Abba; all South East Governors and all the Igbo members of the Federal and State Houses of Assembly on notice that our people, the Igbo, will take necessary action to defend Igbo lives and property.”
Forgive Oba Akiolu –Yoruba monarchs
The Igbo leaders and groups spoke as Yoruba traditional rulers and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, urged Igbo people to forgive the monarch, saying the Yoruba and Igbo will continue to live together in peace.
The Yoruba traditional rulers spoke at Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Council Chamber, Festac, Lagos when they hosted 24 Igbo traditional leaders from different parts of Lagos.
Oba Kayode Akinyemi, the Alabirun of Ikare, who spoke on behalf of seven other Obas, said Lagos has been so peaceful for everyone because Yoruba do not segregate and everyone should work as one for continuous cooperation and co-existence.
Akinyemi said that Oba Akiolu’s threat should be seen as a slip of the tongue.
The Eze-Ndigbo of Amuwo-Oriade, Dr. Gordian Dimojiaku, on behalf of the delegation, said the Yoruba are very accommodating, adding that the Igbo will continue to live with their hosts as one. Dimojiaku noted that he was with the Oba of Lagos when he made the statement on Sunday but that no harm was meant to the Igbo.
Ignore Oba’s threat, Lagosians are tolerant – Obanikoro
Condemning the Oba’s threat, Obanikoro said such habitual intolerance is not in the character trait of the quintessential Lagos people.
Obanikoro appealed to the Igbo not to generalise an average Lagosian as intolerant, adding that Oba Akiolu’s deliberate intolerance is for obvious political reasons.
His words: “The monarch has shown unambiguous biases despite his place as a custodian of the Lagos traditional institution and such premeditated and needless hostility could pitch the non-indigenes against the Lagos indigenes.
“These people have not only become arrogant with power, they are gradually becoming despots. This is who they are. If an individual lays claim to not only hand-picking a governorship candidate but alluded to also owning Lagos as it were, the Igbo should know what such a statement portends for them as a people sinisterly regarded as strangers.”
Asking the Igbo to ignore such threats, he said: “Igbo have their right to choice as every other Nigerian and stakeholders in the state and what happened at the Oba’s palace was an eye-opener for the Igbo to make an ideal choice on Saturday during the governorship poll. ‘’
He called on every patriotic Nigerian to condemn the statement, alleging that similar threats were issued by the APC-led government to civil servants in Alausa through the Head of Service in the presence of one of his predecessors, Hon Yakubu Balogun, representing Lagos Island II in the House of Representatives.
Fasehun, OPC assure Igbo, non-indigenes of safety
In like manner, Founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Frederick Fasehun, has assured Igbo and non-indigenes in Lagos State of safety.
Fasehun, in a statement, said that he had mandated OPC members to ensure that no one is intimidated or molested before, during and after the polls.
According to him, anybody or any group threatening violence against indigenes or non-indigenes would have OPC to contend with because “OPC is a frontline group for the defence of Yoruba interests and the dispensation of social justice to sojourners in the South-West. And we shall be doing everything to make everyone feel safe throughout the duration of the electoral process, before, during and after voting.”
The OPC leader noted that the organisation would cooperate with security agencies on Saturday to guarantee the safety of all voters, indigenes and non-indigenes alike within and outside Lagos.
The statement read: “Yoruba cherishes its republican and cosmopolitan outlook, and this cannot be abridged by anybody and any institution. OPC will continue to maintain its position of defending people’s liberty, including the freedom to vote for parties and candidates of their choice.”
He, however, warned that “any attempt to make people think, decide and vote the same way is not only draconian, it is unrealistic and futile. The minority must have its say, but the majority must have its way.”
Fasehun argued that rather than viewing the different people it harbours as a threat, Lagos needed to express pride in being home to many different tribes and cultures.
“Yoruba welcome strangers. Yoruba people are accommodating and hospitable, which is why land and business holding here is not discriminatory.
”And this reflects in our politics, where we have strong parties and candidates equally competing for public office.
”In the First, Second and Third Republics, key Yoruba politicians did not converge on one political platform, but had equal showing in the ruling parties as well as in the opposition parties at all levels. That is the beauty of Yoruba politics”, he stated.
He urged politicians to embrace peace and not drag the traditional institution into politics.
According to him, political gladiators must imbibe the example of President Goodluck Jonathan, who always maintained that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.