Ndigbo-Lagos and Abia State Traditional Rulers Council have condemned in its entirety the threat of Rilwan Akiolu, Oba of Lagos, to drown Igbos in Lagos in water should they vote against Akinwumi Ambode, candidate of the All Progressives Congress on April 11 governorship election
| By Maureen Chigbo | Apr. 20, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
NDIGBO-LAGOS, the umbrella body of all Igbo organisations in Lagos, and Traditional Rulers Council in Abia State have expressed shock and outrightly condemned the statement Rilwan Akiolu made threatening Igbos in Lagos should they not vote the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate in the April 11, governorship election.
“We were surprised and shocked at the recent statement attributed to the highly revered and respected Oba of Lagos, Kabiyesi, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, at his Iga Idunganran palace on the 5th of April 2015 when a group of honorary Ezes of Ndigbo in Lagos, paid him a courtesy call”, Ndigbo-Lagos said in a statement signed by Anya O. Anya, its president and others. The statement which is on video and has since been published in the regular media and also gone viral on social media quoted the Oba as saying: “On Saturday, 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………… For the Igbos and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to…………. 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………”
“Ndigbo-Lagos uses this medium to draw the attention of Nigerians and indeed the entire World to the grave implications of the statement and the likely response it will elicit from his subjects. We are aware that the stool of the Oba of Lagos is ancient and is regarded with reverence. Pronouncements by the Oba are construed divine-like and attract unquestioned loyalty from the followership. It is on this premise that the current Oba’s statements should be treated with the highest level of concern,” it said.
“The Igbo Nation recalls the painful experience of the pogrom of 1966 and 1967 (which started with similar incitements) in which over 30,000 Igbo men, women and children were massacred; the subsequent civil war, in which over 2 million lives of mostly innocent civilians from Eastern and Midwest Nigeria were lost, had their foundation from incitements. Similarly, the holocaust against European Jews from 1938 to 1945; the massacre and Ethnic Cleansing at Srebrenica and Zepa by Bosnian Serb forces; the Rwandan genocide between April and July 1994 that saw the extermination of about 1 million, mostly ethnic Tutsi Rwandans by the Hutu majority, are just further examples of crimes against humanity occasioned by the incendiary nature of dangerous rhetoric that got out of hand.”
According to Ndigbo-Lagos, “The Igbo and the Yoruba have had a long history of peaceful coexistence and generally share common dreams of a positive future for Nigeria. Based on this experience, We do not feel that the statement of the Oba is a true reflection of the mindset of Lagosians. As far as Ndigbo are concerned, we will continue, as we have always done, to be partners in progress with our fellow citizens and our brothers and sisters in Lagos, and we will continue to contribute our quota towards the peace and development of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general.
“We commend, for emulation, the statesmanship of President Jonathan both in conduct and in spoken words as evidenced by his timely congratulatory message to the President-Elect, General Mohammed Buhari (Rtd). That singular action lifted the veil of darkness which appeared to be enveloping Nigeria during the process of voting and announcement of results of the 2015 Presidential election. We are aware of the trauma which the Oba’s statement may have inflicted on the Igbo and other residents in Lagos State, and therefore enjoin all to remain calm, law abiding and to carry out their normal day-to-day businesses without fear or intimidation. Even as we advise this, all Igbo and other nationalities resident in Lagos should also not hesitate to protect their lives and property within the tenets of the laws of the land if the need arises. The Igbo, and indeed all Nigerians resident in Lagos State, should feel free to turn out en-masse to vote according to their conscience at the election of the 11th April, 2015 and any other election in Nigeria.”
It also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure that nobody is disenfranchised through acts of intimidation and lawlessness and to guarantee that upcoming elections in Lagos State are free, fair and a true reflection of the votes of the residents of the state. “We call for public retraction of the statement by Oba Akiolu, and an unreserved apology from him to the Igbo community and other affected people in Lagos State. Furthermore, we call for absolute guarantee from the Executive Governor of Lagos State, our Governor, His Excellency Babatunde Raji Fasola (SAN), and the Lagos State government, current and future that the lives and property of Igbo and other citizens of Lagos State will be protected notwithstanding their political persuasions. Finally, we also call on National Security Agencies to ensure that Igbos and other residents in Lagos are adequately protected and are not denied their inalienable rights to self-expression”, it said.
Similarly, the attention of the Abia state Council of Traditional Rulers said that Akiolu’s comment, in a nutshell, tends to threaten the Igbos and others resident in Lagos with dire consequences should they vote against his anointed and preferred gubernatorial candidate – Akinwunmi Ambode of the APC.
“We wish to state as a body that we are alarmed at the unguarded and most unfortunate statements of the Oba. As Traditional Rulers, we must at all times adorn the toga of non-partisanship in line with the divine role we are privileged to play in the society. We must state that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees all Nigerians freedom to live anywhere in the country and to carry on lawful and legitimate businesses in any part of the country. Our said constitution equally guarantees all Nigerians freedom of association including that of holding public opinion on any issue which however includes political.
“The Igbos who constitute a sizeable number of the population of Lagos State have made and are still making valuable contributions to the development of that State. The Igbos will not allow anybody no matter how highly placed in the society and under any guise whatsoever to cajole, intimidate or cow them into subverting their constitutional rights of freedom to choose where they live or do business in the country or what political opinions to hold.”
The statement which was signed by Eberechi N. Dick, Chairman of the Traditional Leaders Council, Abia State, and . D.A. Chionye, first deputy chairman and S.A. Okorie, second deputy chairman, and made available to Realnews states: “Our council, in the light of the foregoing, condemns in very strong terms, the comments of the Oba of Lagos as contained in various media reports as same is obviously ill-advised and unacceptable in a country where we all share a common dream. We are very confident that the Oba will not carry out his threat irrespective of who emerges as the Governor of Lagos State because we know that he was not enthroned to supervise the total destruction of our dear Lagos. However, we urge the Igbos in Lagos and others to be vigilant and take the issues of the safety of their lives and that of their properties seriously in the days ahead.
The traditional rulers also urge Igbos to exercise their civic responsibility by voting according to their conscience and conviction and in utter disregard of the unguarded statements of the Oba of Lagos which has no place in a modern and egalitarian society as Nigeria.