Rilwanu Akiolu, Oba of Lagos, is at the receiving end as Nigerians across different political and ethnic groups have continued to condemn his threat that if Igbos failed to vote for Akinwunmi Ambode, his gubernatorial choice in the April 11 election they would all get drowned in Lagos lagoon
| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
RILWAN Akiolu, Oba or traditional ruler of Lagos, appears to have talked himself into trouble. Since his threat to Igbo leaders who paid him a courtesy visit in his palace in Lagos, that if Igbos fail to vote for Akinwunmi Ambode, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the Saturday, April 11 gubernatorial elections, they would drown in Lagos lagoon, the monarch has been condemned and ridicule across the country.
Apparently irked by the statement made by Akiolu when he hosted members of Ndigbo living in Lagos, some aggrieved Igbo persons have also threatened to report the Oba to the International Criminal Court, ICC, at The Hague, Netherlands, for his hate statement against the Igbo. According to newspaper report, Josef Onoh, son of former Governor Christian C. Onoh of old Anambra State, was quoted as saying he would drag Akiolu to the ICC over his alleged statement. Onoh described the Lagos monarch’s utterance as “a grievous incitement against the Igbos in Lagos.” Onoh, who encouraged the Igbo people to vote for candidates of their choice said: “Let it be known that whether Oba Akiolu’s threat comes to fruition or not, I have concluded plans to take him to the ICC where he will keep company to the like Charles Taylor and answer to human right charges that will be preferred against him.”
In the same manner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, CCFN, called on Akiolu to withdraw the curse he allegedly placed on Igbo in his statement over governorship election in Lagos State. The CCFN said Akiolu’s statement was a clear threat and intimidation of the Igbo nation. The CCFN statement signed by Evaristus Bassey, a reverend father and executive secretary of the foundation, reminded the monarchy about the contributions of the Igbo community to development of the state, and the fact that: “Nigeria is a republic and a democracy and not a monarchy.”
In a similar statement, Femi Fani-Kayode, director of media and publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation, PDPPCO, on Monday, April 6, described as unacceptable the alleged threat by the Oba. Fani-Kayode alleged that many of President Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters in the North received similar threats before the March 28, presidential election.
Nevertheless, he called Lagosians to ignore the threat and come out en masse to vote for Jimi Agbaje, governorship candidate of the PDP on Saturday. He also warned: “Let it be clearly understood by all and sundry that any attempt to kill, maim or molest our supporters will be deemed unacceptable and will be met with defiance, contempt and a well-orchestrated and solid resistance.”
Similarly, Olisah Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, said the Oba’s threat was barbaric. “Our response to the Oba of Lagos is that he cannot play God and can never be God. God owns the universe and every part of it and can never share His glory with any human no matter how highly placed.
“We, therefore, call on all Nigerians in Lagos State, all Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and people of other tribes, all northerners and southerners, all Christians and Muslims to turn against this unpatriotic stance, by coming out en masse to vote for the PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje, on Saturday.”
He alleged that the APC had already started terrorising supporters of the PDP with vows to make life unbearable for them when it eventually assumed power. Metuh said investigation revealed that one of the targets is Ifeanyi Ubah, chairman of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria TAN. “We, therefore, urge General Muhammadu Buhari, as the leader of the APC, to call his members and supporters, particularly in Lagos, to order, especially bearing in mind that it was the peaceful atmosphere and the level playing ground nurtured by the PDP-led administration that created the room for his emergence at the presidential polls,” he said, adding: “Our country cannot at this moment afford to slide into anarchy, reign of terror and deliberate schemes to divide the people for selfish political reasons. The PDP will completely resist all anti democratic forces from any quarters.”
Ogbuagwu Anikwe, a commentator, said Oba’s threat was “a well-executed strategy to make Igbos the issue in the election and this is exactly where the APC wants it to be. By Friday, most Igbos will be too unconcerned to go out and vote, while the Yorubas and other ethnic groups will rise up and cast an anti-Igbo vote – for Ambode.”
Afenifere, a Yoruba cultural group, said it was unbecoming of a monarchy to say such a thing. Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of the group, said: “We say with all sense of responsibility that if these were truly the words of Kabiyesi, he has clearly crossed the line of royal decency, desecrated the royal stool and violated the electoral laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and engaged in promotion of hate speech capable of fuelling ethnic tension and clashes which are against the spirit of peaceful co-existence which we have achieved in recent years.”
Odumakin, however, said Igbo and other non-Yoruba in Lagos should disregard the conduct of Oba as “totally strange to Yoruba culture and a negation of our democratic character as a people” adding: “Yoruba people are too civilised to support the primitive intimidation of fellow Nigerians just as we will not accept such action being visited on our people in any part of Nigeria.”
Irked by the development, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo went into an emergency meeting to take a stand on the Oba’s threats to allegedly make life unbearable for Ndigbo, if they did not vote for his candidate. Gary Igariwey, president general of the Igbo cultural group, said all the Igbo leaders in Lagos would meet and take a stand on the issue. “Once they are through, they will communicate me and an official stance will be made known,” he said.
On its part, the Enugu Unity Forum, EUF, a political think-tank, through Tahil Ochi, its chairman, said: “Igbo and Yoruba have had cordial relationship. The issue of election should not bring the relationship to a halt. The Oba should remove politics from the relationship and preach peace, unity and not war. As an Oba, he should be the father of all.”
Many other Nigerians across ethnic and religious groups have condemned the Oba’s statement and asked him to apologise for his utterances.
Trouble started when he received all Eze Ndigbo in Lagos State to his palace when in his palace on Sunday, April 5, and warned that he would not tolerate anyone or Igbo men stop Ambode from becoming governor. He was caught on tape saying: “On Saturday, (April 11) if any one of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me.
“Jonathan is my son and I speak to him every day, by the grace of Allah (God), I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future.
“On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of Allah (God), goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water. I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi is my blood relation and I told him that he can never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God.
“I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, if you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you, if you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”