March 20, 2023

Ohanaeze condemns threats against Igbo in Lagos

Ohanaeze condemns threats against Igbo in Lagos

…urges Buhari, Tinubu, others to intervene
…commends Peter Obi’s Yoruba supporters

By Biodun Busari

The apex-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has condemned various intimidation and nefarious acts unleashed at Igbo people residing in Lagos state before and during elections, describing them as “barefaced brutality, repression, and existential threat.”

Ohanaeze also chided some Yoruba personalities such as Bayo Onanuga, a spokesperson of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Musiliu Akinsanya, the Chairman of Lagos State Parks Management Committee, popularly known as MC Oluomo, over their recent anti-Igbo slur that have been greeted with backlash.

The supreme Igbo group revealed this in a statement titled, ‘What have the Igbo done? – Ohanaeze Ndigbo asks the Lagos attackers on Igbo’ by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia on Monday.

Anti-Igbo threats

Vanguard reported that MC Oluomo threatened the non-All Progressives Congress voters in the build-up to governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18, which he later refuted. In the same vein, Onanuga, after the emergence of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the Lagos gubernatorial poll, threatened that Igbo should never interfere in Lagos politics.

While the two incisive comments came from Lagos APC stalwarts, they were swiftly condemned by the same APC chieftains and Yoruba. Onanuga’s colleague, Festus Keyamo, was among the people that criticised him.  

Ohanaeze’s reactions

Reacting to the inflammatory comments, Ohanaeze said, “It is with a deep sense of concern that Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide wishes to draw the public attention to the barefaced brutality, repression and existential threat presently perpetrated against the Igbo population in the Lagos State of Nigeria.

“It will be recalled that in the run-up to the February 25, 2023, presidential election, Ndigbo in Lagos were subjected to inhuman treatments by the so-called “owners” of Lagos for which reason many of our people were brazenly attacked, oppressed, repressed, and disenfranchised for no other reason than insisting on their civic rights to vote for candidates of their choice.

“A few days ago, Mr Bayo Onanuga, the spokesperson for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, issued a “last warning” threat to Igbos in Lagos State warning them to stop “interfering” with politics in the state. Onanuga added that “this year 2023 should be the last time they should interfere in Lagos politics, stating that ” the state belongs to Yorubas” and “let there be no repeat in 2027” and that the “Igbo are not Lagosians but mere strangers from another ethnic group.”

“Onanuga maintained that “Igbo are merely tolerated in Lagos.” Without remorse, Onanuga insisted: “I owe no one any apology for addressing the existential threats of my Yoruba stock”; insisting that “I am after all, first of all, a Yoruba, before being a Nigerian.”

“In another development, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Segun Agbaje stated that the reason the Igbo in Lagos cannot have their PVC is that they are from the South-Eastern part of the country, inferring that they are immigrants; in what Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi criticised as a “Conspiracy against Democracy: INEC REC; Segun Agbaje’s Outburst, Other Matters Arising” and thus accused the INEC REC of being complicit in a plan to disenfranchise the Igbo in Lagos.

“In yet another development, Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya, threatened that “Igbos who will not vote for the APC in the governorship election to stay at home.”

“Consequently, in the aftermath of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, Ndigbo in Lagos have had their shops vandalized and burnt down with the authorities in Lagos looking the other way. In the process, many Igbo have suffered physical and psychological harm, loss of property and death.

“Again, on March 19, 2023, many Igbo ethnics that came out to exercise their franchise were attacked with dangerous weapons. While some of the Igbo sons and daughters were alleged to have died in the process, some others are in various hospitals in Lagos State,” Ohanaeze added.

Why Igbo should not be attacked

The group noted that Lagos was a former capital city of Nigeria, the reason it has attracted different ethnic nationalities, including Igbo, and as such the indigenes should not be hostile to them.

“Ohanaeze wants to know why in every election, Igbos in Lagos would be a target of attack by both the traditional institutions and government agencies while the federal government of Nigeria would complicity watch and sanctimoniously preach that the unity of Nigeria is indivisible and indissoluble.

“It is once more pointed out that Lagos was the capital of Nigeria at the Nigerian Independence in 1960; just like Abuja is today the capital of Nigeria. It is of course highly inconceivable for a particular ethnic group to be excluded from the social, economic and political activities in the federal capital territory of any country or in any part of the country for that matter.

“In other words, instead of commendations and plaudits for the invaluable contributions of the Igbo in Lagos State, some miscreants have taken barbarism to the extreme by killing and maiming the Igbo because they came out to vote in a democratic election,” Ohanaeze stated.

Accolades to Yoruba figures who supported Peter Obi

Ohanaeze went further to say that the despicable acts by some of the aforementioned people do not reflect the whole position of the Yoruba. It cited cases and praises many prominent Yoruba like the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo who threw their weight behind the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi during the presidential election.

The statement further noted, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not want to view the Yoruba ethnic through the narrow lens orchestrated by the illegits, miscreants, hoodlums and the jaundiced half Yoruba who have met culture and civilisation halfway.

“This is because, the Ohanaeze cannot forget the likes of Dr Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Afenifere and indeed all those eminent Yoruba that stood on the side of justice, equity and history by supporting Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023.

“Neither are we unaware of the numerous Igbo sons and daughters whose spouses are from the Yoruba ethnic group.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo further points out that all the highly placed persons, such as the Onanugas who have championed threats, maiming and killings of the Igbo in Lagos have never been brought to book as a deterrent to other unrepentant ethnic chauvinists.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo underscores the fact that Ndigbo are essentially republican and cosmopolitan in nature with a very open society that admits competence far and above ethnic sentiments. In the First Republic, a Fulani man was elected the Mayor of Enugu. In last Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections, a Yoruba man, Chinasa Abiola was elected as a member of Abia State House of Assembly to represent Umuahia South State Constituency.”

Buhari and Tinubu should caution against inflammatory statements

Ohanaeze then appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as President-elect Tinubu to call those making divisive comments to order. It also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba and other security chiefs to be on top of their game in addressing the situation.

“The atrocities against the Igbo in Lagos State should stop before it degenerates into other untold consequences. We, therefore, call on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the Inspector-General of Police, the Director of DSS, the Governor of Lagos State, as well as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and others, to wade into this ethnic profiling of the Igbo in Lagos State and the attendant hardship which our people have been subjected to with a view to averting this impending tragedy.

“Surely, students of history will easily recall that those calling for war may know why the war will begin but will surely not know how, where, when and in whose favour the war will end.

“Ohanaeze wants to let the world know that Ndigbo has paid the ultimate prize for the unity of Nigeria. Despite the harrowing experiences we endured during the civil war, the Igbo have embraced Nigeria with great enthusiasm, open-mindedness, hospitality, entrepreneurship, creativity and patriotism.

“The question on every lip is what have the Igbo done?” it added.