Governorship Poll: Igbos in Lagos must vote en-mass without fear – Anya-Ndi-Igbo

photo file.

By Anthony Isibor

THE Lagos Chapter of Anya-Ndi-Igbo, on Monday, March 13, 2023, called on all Igbos  in Lagos to come out en-mass and perform their civic duty without fear of intimidation.

According to the statement signed by Emeka Ugwu-Oju, Former Deputy President General Ndigbo Lagos; Onyechi Ben Akah, Unite Nigeria Group;  and Uma Eleazu, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Anya-Ndi-Igbo, all Igbos living in Lagos state and who are registered to vote in Lagos must not be intimidated by the threats of violence against them as watertight arrangements have been concluded at very high levels to secure voters during and after the elections.

The group made the statement following the recent happenings in Lagos since the political activities leading up to the elections in the state.

It described as unfortunate and a gross violation of their fundamental rights, all the happenings, which have been alarming ‘to us all who are referred to as non-indigenes, especially those of us that are of Igbo stock.’

It said that although the Igbo ethnic group is not a political party neither is it contesting in this election, it is, however, their constitutional rights to life, to lawful association, to vote, to self-identity, to engage in lawful economic activities and to hold opinions and express them.

It also called on the Governor of Lagos state, to step up to this responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos state and provide security for them. 

According to the group, the Igbo’s are Nigerians.

“The law of the land permits the Igbo man to live in any part of the country he chooses and pursue a legitimate livelihood. The law of the land permits and guarantees him freedom of association, freedom to belong to any politial party or none at all, and freedom to vote for any party of his choice. We reject in totality, the attempt of the APC in Lagos state to deny the Igbo these rights. 

 “We wish to state for the umpteenth time. The Igbo ethnic group is not a political party.

“It has never contested any election in the past. It will never contest any election in the future. The Igbo, as a distinct ethnic group, has no preferred candidate in the governorship election in Lagos state. Igbo people are members of numerous political parties, including the APC on their individual choices and are supporting their party’s candidates. No Igbo man is contesting the election for the office of governor. We have no dog in this fight. We should not be made the victim. The Igbos and Yorubas have lived happily together in love and mutual understanding and respect. The politicians of the Lagos State APC should desist from pitching Yorubas against Igbos with vicious falsehoods dished out from their propaganda machinery just so that the APC can win the gubernatorial election. After that what next? The seed of distrust, mutual suspicion and hatred must have been sown. How does it get taken care of? How does society move on from there?

“Our kit-and-kin have been singled out and targeted for verbal abuses, intimidation, virulent propaganda, deliberate misrepresentation to Lagosians as everything EVIL, ferocious violent attacks, deliberate destruction of means of livelihood, arson and murder. The social and frontline media are awash with stories of attacks on the Igbo and also with gory pictures and video clips of incidents. The governments at all levels, federal, state and local, have been made fully aware. They have chosen to do nothing.  We have not found any protection from the state or any of its agencies. They have rather looked the other way whilst these atrocities happened and to our mind, with acquiescence or silent approval.  

“Some of our Royal fathers at the grassroots level, the Baales, have been recorded to  have invited Igbo people domiciled in their communities to meetings, and threatened  them with the destruction of their lives and their means of livelihood should they fail  to vote for the APC. Thugs have boldly used video clips circulated on social media handles to issue death threats to Igbos if they dare vote for any party that is not the APC. Igbos are commanded to vote for the APC, take pictures of their ballots as they  cast them, and preserve those pictures as evidence that they voted for the APC as a  condition that will guarantee their continued peaceful existence in the communi8es in  the post-election period. These threats have gone viral on social media, the culprits’ faces are shown on video clips and the government keeps mum. 

“A few markets built and operated by traders of Igbo descent have been set on fire in Lagos, the latest being the motor spare parts market in the slums of Ajegunle where at  least one person was murdered. A similar event took place in the Isolo/Ikotun area of Lagos where the selective destruction of shops and merchandise owned by Igbo traders was said to have been supervised by the very respected Royal father of the community, the Baale. These, two incidents, are in the public domain and we have heard of no ac8on from the State and local government. 

“We are aware that all these steps are being taken by the Lagos State APC to suppress the votes of any compe8ng party in the elec8ons. They erroneously believe it is the Igbos that will not vote for the APC. We do not want to convince them otherwise but we will like to state one fact. His Excellency, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, of blessed memory, said and we quote: “any party that has been in government for one term of four years does not need to campaign for votes. It is the visible work it has done for the people that should cons8tute its campaign.” Why then would a party that has been in government and in power for 24 years rely solely on intimidation, thuggery, murder and all sorts of criminality to win an election and single out the Igbo for victimization? 

“We believe that the APC can win this and any other election without shedding Igbo blood or any other blood for that matter. The party surely has other legitimate ways to win its election in a fair competition in accordance with the law. Sometimes we wonder if the APC realizes that they have a very significant Igbo population with them as members and followers in this same Lagos State.” the statement said.