BLOCK CK D4 CLUSTER D, FLAT 402,
1004 HOUSING ESTATE, V. I., LAGOS
March 13, 2023
2023 NATIONAL ELECTIONS: MATTERS ARISING IN LAGOS STATE.
This statement is issued by Anya-Ndi-Igbo, Lagos Chapter, on behalf of Ndi-Igbo, living in Lagos State, in reaction to the spate of threats to their lives and properties.
1. The recent happenings in Lagos since the political activities leading up to the elections came to a crescendo have been alarming to us all who are referred to as non-indigenes especially those of us that are of Igbo stock.
2. Our kit-and-kin have been singled out and targeted for verbal abuses, intimidation, virulent propaganda, deliberate misrepresentations 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 the acquiescence or silent approval.
3. 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 communities in the post-elec8on period. These threats have gone viral on social media, the culprits’ faces are shown on video clips and the government keeps mum.
4. 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 selec8ve destruc8on 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 action from the State and local government.
5. We are aware that all these steps are being taken by the Lagos State APC to suppress the votes of any competing party in the elections. 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 constitute 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 vic8miza8on?
6. We wish to state for the umpteenth 8me. The Igbo ethnic group is not a political party. It is not contesting this election. It has never contested any election in the past. It will never contest any election in the future. The Igbo, as a dis8nct 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?
7. 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.
8. Igbos 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 political 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.
9. We consider all that has happened in the past few weeks and are likely to happen going forward, a blatant viola8on of the cons8tu8onal rights of Igbo people living in Lagos – their rights to life, their rights to lawful associa8on, their right to vote, their right to self-identity, their rights to engage in lawful economic activities and their rights to hold opinions and express them. We wish to remind the Governor of Lagos state that the Igbos living in Lagos state are his subjects. He has the duty as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos state to provide them security for their lives and their livelihood. We call on him to step up to this responsibility.
Finally, we call on all Igbos living in Lagos state and who are registered to vote in Lagos not to 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. Just come out and perform your civic duty. It is your right.
Emeka Ugwu-Oju. Onyechi Ben Akah
Emeka Ugwu-Oju. Engr. Onyechi Ben Akah
Former Deputy President General, Unite Nigeria Group Ndigbo Lagos. Uma Eleazu
Elder (Dr.) Uma Eleazu
Chairman, Board of Trustees Anya-Ndi-Igbo