Following the inflammatory threat to the life of Igbo residents in Lagos State by Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the socio-cultural group of Ndi Igbo known as Igbo Ekulie has vowed to show up en masse and vote for the governorship candidate of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Jimi Agbaje in the April 11 polls.
In an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, released on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 the group dared the traditional ruler to do his worst as they will not cast votes for his chosen candidate of All Progressive Congress, Akinwunmi Ambode because they believed Agbaje has the interest of the Igbo residents at heart.
“We await Oba Akiolu to do his worst and promise him that he will bear the consequences of his action,” they said in a statement titled, “Call Oba Of Lagos, HRM. Rilwan Akiolu To Order – An Open Letter To President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan And President- Elect, Major General Muhammadu Bujari (GCFR)”
The full statement reads:
“Igbo Ekulie is a grouping of Igbo intellectuals and technocrats in both formal and informal sectors of the Nigeria economy which was set up to defend and protect Igbo interests in a united Nigeria. We have followed with considerable interest the recent outburst and threat to life of Ndi Igbo in Lagos according to their voting pattern in the recent concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria and wish to make the following Statement.
We wish to observe the present unhealthy utterances and threat to life by Oba of Lagos, HRM Oba Riliwan Akiolu against Ndi Igbo especially on their voting pattern in the coming Governorship Election coming up this Saturday 11th April 2015.
HRM Oba Riliwan Akiolu was quoted in most of the National media today, Monday 6th April 2015 as directing Ndi Igbo in Lagos State to vote massively for his anointed and handpicked candidate, Mr. Ambode Akinwunmi of All Peoples Congress (APC) vowing to deal ruthlessly with Ndi Igbo residents in Lagos state if such directive is not strictly adhered to in this coming Governorship Election. According to him, if the Igbos did not vote for his candidate, all of them will perish inside the Lagoon.
Speaking at a meeting with Igbo Leaders in the state, the First class Monarch who fails to recognize the metropolitan nature of Lagos purportedly said “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 is not my father who gave birth to me.” On Saturday, he continued, “If any one of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next Governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside the water.
The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, don’t do it here. 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”
Oba Riliwan Akiolu was quoted in an unconcealed threat that he was not ready to beg the Igbos in Lagos to vote for Mr. Ambode vowing that if they repeated what they did on March 28th when they voted for Presidential Candidate of PDP, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and then the Igbos should be ready for the consequences.
We see this directive and threat as a dangerous drawback to the Political development of this country days after an internationally acclaimed free and fair election was conducted in Nigeria where the Opposition successfully won the Presidential election conducted by INEC.
The use of this dangerous ethnic and traditional tool to threaten, coarse, and force Ndi Igbo living in Lagos to vote for the Obas anointed candidate, and by implication foisting a Governor on them simply because they are Non-indigenes is condemnable and unacceptable to Ndi Igbo. These further points to a devious plot by some Powerful forces within Lagos State to portray Ndi Igbo as enemies of the project called Nigeria. They tend to put the Igbo Nation at cross road and war with the incoming administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari even when he has not been sworn into office.
On Population front, Oba Akiolu should be reminded that Ndi Igbo constitutes more than 40% of the state population and therefore must be treated with utmost respect by canvassing for their vote peacefully because of the electoral value they have instead of empty threats. In a democratic setting like ours, people freely choose whom to vote for irrespective of ethnic or Political affiliation. Ndi Igbo should be left to enjoy that right where ever they have registered to vote in Nigeria.
OUR STAND AND POSITION
This death threat must not be taken lightly. It must be seen for what it is: A dangerous threat and plot calculated to paint Ndi Igbo black to scheme them out of Political relevance. Such threat by an influential first class Yoruba traditional Ruler cannot be accepted by Ndi Igbo. We have not forgotten so easily how the Government of Fashola arrested legitimate Ndi Igbo sons and daughters, clamped them into detention in Ikorodu detention Centre and shipped them like captured slaves and dumped all of them at Niger Head Bridge Onitsha in the guise of deportation from Lagos to their home states with an excuse that they were jobless Ndi Igbo. This is the first time all over the world that a bona-fide citizen of his country was carried and deported to another part of the same country without any recourse to rule of law and respect for his/her fundamental Human Right enjoined by every citizen of Nigeria. Does it mean that we do not have jobless Yorubas and other ethnic nationalities living in Lagos? Why Ndi Igbo must be singled out for such barbaric treatment.
By this singular death threat from HRM Oba Akiolu to Ndi Igbo residing in Lagos, it is now clear that the security of the Ndi Igbo is not guaranteed in Lagos anymore and under this Administration. We are afraid that the massive investment of Ndi Igbo in Lagos is threatened if Oba Akiolu anointed Candidate is voted into Power to oversee the affairs of Lagos state in the coming Governorship election.
We are sounding a note of warning to Oba Riliwan Akiolu and his conspirators behind this evil agenda to desist from it because if their plan succeeds, the Igbo nation will rise up and fight for their right and self determination in this country which will make the Political and Economic future of Nigeria very uncertain and precarious.
We have the right to self determination and we will invoke it again this time and successfully too. Ndi Igbo have the constitutional right like any other citizen to make a choice amongst the contending Governorship aspirants on whom to vote for taking their interest into consideration.
We call on Ndi Igbo residing any whjere in Nigeria, not only Lagos not to be intimidated nor cowed by any threat, but to stand up and fight for their civic right by exercising their civic responsibilities of free choice as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. We cannot fold our arms and allow one ambitious traditional Ruler enjoying the dividends of god fatherism in the comfort of his domain and whose throne is still in contention at the Court till today to relegate and rubbish the Economic contribution of hard working Ndi Igbo to the development of Lagos State. Lagos is what it is today due to the doggedness and resilience of Ndi Igbo who has invested massively to the infrastructural development of Lagos State.
We totally condemn Oba Akiolu for his incitement of a mass genocide against Ndi Igbo. For a first class traditional ruler in Nigeria he should not say he does not know the implication of his statement.
Traditional rulers are the custodians of our culture. They are respected due to their immense contribution to peace and unity of Nigeria. They are not to be seen as being Partisan as Oba Akiolu is now behaving.
We have handed over Oba Akiolu the fate and lives of Ndi Igbo residing in his domain. If anything happens to them before, during and after this coming election, he will be held responsible because of his call for anarchy, chaos and bloodletting should his anointed candidate fail the Governorship elections comes April 11th 2015. He should be reminded that only God gives and takes life and not mortals like us.
In spite of this, Ndi Igbo will not accept any death threat, mishap on any of its citizen by anybody no matter how highly placed before, during and after the coming Governorship election anywhere in the country.
We call on President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and President-Elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari to call Oba Akiolu to order before he will destroy the calm and peace presently being enjoyed throughout the country after the smooth conduct of Presidential election. He should be cautioned to stop overheating the polity with his political utterances. Our calm and love for peace should not be construed as an act of cowardice as every ethnic group in Nigeria knows the Igbo man fighting spirit any time.
Oba Akiolu should be made to retract his statement, apologize to Ndi Igbo for this threat if he does not want to invoke the wrath of Ndi Igbo in Lagos and declared Persona non grata throughout Igbo Land. He should be made to sign an undertaken that if anything happens to Ndi Igbo during the coming Governorship election, he must be held responsible.
Due to this development, Ndi Igbo must vote for PDP Governorship candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje come Saturday 11th April Governorship election since we have discovered that he has the interest of Ndi Igbo at heart and will protect our investments better against those who wants to see all Ndi Igbo dead because they were exercising their voting rights of Choice. We await Oba Akiolu to do his worst and promise him that he will bear the consequences of his action. Our silence and peaceful conduct in Lagos cannot be taken as an act of cowardice. We are ready to defend our right, interests and investments in Lagos and are ready to die while defending them.
Ndi Igbo living anywhere outside Igbo land especially Lagos should rise up to this occasion and defend Ndi Igbo interest against those who preach hate messages against us to annihilate us by introducing Mass genocide against Ndi Igbo which we suffered during the 30 months Civil war in Nigeria when innocent Ndi Igbo were slaughtered like animals by Ndi Igbo haters.
Nigeria is a democratic nation with Free association and movement. Elections are not a do or die affair. Let nobody destroy the Peace we are enjoying in Nigeria now. Ndi Igbo cannot be taken for a ride any more in this project called Nigeria. Enough is Enough.