Nigerians Repudiates Oba Akiolu for Threatening Igbo People in Lagos

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Individuals and groups both within and outside Nigeria spent a major part of Monday condemning the chairman of the Lagos State Traditional Council and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, for saying "any Igbo person in Lagos who refuses to vote for his own endorsed candidate would die withing seven days."

 The Oba, who received some Igbo chiefs resident in Lagos at his palace during the Easter celebration, reportedly commanded the Igbo people to vote for Akinwunmi Ambode, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor of Lagos State in the election that would hold on Saturday because if they vote for Jimi Agbaje, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whom he called his blood, that would be their end.

 By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. On Saturday, if anyone 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 this water.

 « For the Igbo and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to. When they were coming to the state, they did not come with all their houses. But now, they have properties in the state. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God.

 "I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi is my blood relation and I told him that he could never be governor in Lagos for now. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you cannot do it here," the Oba had said.

 Since Monday when the report as well as the audio and video format broke, Nigerians have taken to various social media to castigate the Oba with many saying he does not know how to talk while others say his comments are inciting.

 Some even made jest of him saying as a retired police officer, he has been heavily influenced financially to forget the pride that should come with his stool.


In a statement condemning him, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria said the Oba's threat was against morality and royalty.

 in a statement signed by Fr. Evaristus Bassey, Executive Secretary of the Caritas Nigeria and JDPC, Abuja, the religious group wondered why the Oba singled out the Igbos whereas even some Yorubas and people of other tribes would vote for Agbaje.

 "At the national offices of Caritas Nigeria and Justice Development and Peace Commission, we are totally shocked to read about the threat handed down by Oba Akiolu to the Igbos in Lagos. While it is understandable that a Royal Father would want for his wishes to be carried out, we are deeply concerned that the royal father is missing the point that Nigeria is a republic and a democracy and not a monarchy.

 "We understand the genuine fear of the great Oba of losing Lagos to strangers. But Lagos has been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Africa for decades and any citizen contributing to its economy and politics can be a bona fide resident. As such, the upstages as happened in the last elections are to be expected.

 "Nevertheless natives and non-native residents should feel free to negotiate and clarify expectations but not in the threatening and intimidating manner the revered Oba has lashed out.

 "We have just a few interrogations: why single out a particular ethnic group for this curse? Does it mean a Yoruba or Hausa person living in Lagos who votes for Jimi Agbaje will go scot-free but any Igbo who votes for Agbaje will drown in the Lagoon?

 "Does it mean that people should vote out of fear and not their consciences? Would such an election be free and fair, where people have to vote out of intimidation? Does not the threat of the Oba Akiolu amount to voter intimidation?

 "We humbly call on the Oba himself to withdraw his curse and rather appeal to the people, for indeed such a threat may amount to playing God and God who is a merciful father will not allow his children to die so senselessly just because they were fulfilling the dictates of their conscience.

 "The fact that APC is government at the centre is a strong factor to employ and appeal to people to vote APC rather than invoking ancestral powers for destruction. Why is it that in Africa we usually invoke our powers for destruction and not for building-up?"


 The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural organisation of Igbo people, on Monday evening issued Oba Akiolu a 48-hour ultimatum  to, not only retract his threat to the Igbo people, but tender an unreserved apology to the ethnic group.

 The group which reminded the monarch that democracy gives the freedom to the electorate to make their choices without intimidation, said it was a despicable insult on the Igbo nation, home and abroad, for the Oba to issue such threats adding that it was the least expected of a royal father in the rank of Oba of Lagos.

 The group, which asked security agencies to invite the Oba for questioning because of the grave dangers his current posture portends, slammed the Oba for using a crude method to attempt to coerce the people in a situation where they are free to make their choices.

 In a statement issued in Umuahia, Abia State and endorsed by its National President, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group warned that Igbo youths would not take this insult lightly, and unless he apologises within 48 hours he should know he is courting the wrath of the Igbo people. It also asked that the Oba should be held responsible should anything happen to any Ndigbo or their business interests in Lagos in the event of APC losing the Lagos governorship race.

 "Inasmuch as we do not want to get involved in Lagos politics, we want to sound a note of warning that no Igbo should be vilified or persecuted for his or her electoral choice in Lagos or any part of Nigeria.

 "Every Nigerian has the constitutional right to reside in any part of the country and participate in the electoral process based on one’s convictions, and electoral choice is not a crime.

"Nobody no matter what he thinks he is, has the right to command Ndigbo anywhere on who to vote for in a democratic setting," the statement said adding that the Oba's comments only revealed his innate hatred for Ndigbo.


 In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned what it described as "the emerging height of political recklessness in Lagos and Ekiti states ahead of Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections and calls on all Nigerians to stand up against such anti-democratic tendencies."

 APC members in the Ekiti State House of Assembly have commenced impeachment moves against Governor Ayodele Fayose, but the PDP said: "the senseless and unpatriotic impeachment move against Governor Ayo Fayose by out-going APC state legislators and the barbaric death threats on non-indigenes in Lagos by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu if they voted for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, ascended to a height of unruliness that should not be accommodated.

 "The PDP totally and unequivocally rejects the flimsy and unsubstantiated allegations concocted by the APC legislators against Governor Fayose. We state in very clear terms that we will stand with him and bear our full weight in defense of the mandate freely given to him by the people of Ekiti state.

 "We invite all lovers of democracy and the international community to note the antics of APC and the deliberate plot to destabilize the polity even when it is yet to assume power.

 "In the same vein, it is indeed most unfortunate that a royal father of the status of the Oba of Lagos should attempt to drag the revered traditional institution into partisan politics to the level of threatening innocent Nigerians with the view to prevent them from freely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right.

 "Our response to the Oba of Lagos is that he cannot play God and can never be God. God owns the universe and every part of it and can never share His glory with any human no matter how highly placed.

 "We therefore call on all Nigerians in Lagos state; all Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas and people of other tribes; all northerners and southerners; all Christians and Muslims to turn against this unpatriotic stance, by coming out enmasse to vote for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje on Saturday.

 "Undoubtedly, this anti-Nigeria position reminds of the 2013 inhuman and callous arrest, detention and eventual ‘deportation’ of non-indigenes by the APC-led government of Lagos state and confirms fears that the APC is indeed on a mission to destroy our national unity, balkanize the nation and obliterate the personal freedom Nigerians enjoy today.

"Already, the APC has started terrorizing supporters of the PDP with vows to make life unbearable for them when it eventually assumes power. Our investigation reveals that many of our prominent supporters have been marked. The process has already started with threats to the life, family and business of the Chairman of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah for supporting PDP candidates and helping non-indigenes win some Lagos seats in the National Assembly on the platform of the our great party.

 "Indeed, if this threats on a duly elected state governor and innocent Nigerians constitute the picture or foretaste of the order of the day when the APC finally assumes power at the center, then the nation is in serious danger. However, the PDP states in very unambiguous terms that Nigerians would not accept such under any guise whatsoever.

 "This is more so because in the last 16 years, our citizens from all walks of lives have seen civility and decorum under the PDP-led administration and would not accept any attempt by anybody to institute a reign of terror in the country

 "We therefore urge General Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the APC to call his members and supporters, particularly in Lagos and Ekiti to order; especially bearing in mind that it was the peaceful atmosphere and the level playing ground nurtured by the PDP-led administration that created the room for his emergence at the presidential polls. Our country cannot at this moment afford to slide into anarchy, reign of terror and deliberate schemes to divide the the people for selfish political reasons.

 "The PDP will completely resist all anti democratic forces from any quarters. We therefore charge Nigerians, especially those in Lagos and Ekiti states respectively to stand up fearlessly and reject the unpatriotic stance of the Oba of Lagos and the undemocratic move to dismantle the mandate given to Governor Ayo Fayose by the people."


 In his reaction, the Director of Media of the President Goodluck Jonathan campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said: "the Oba of Lagos' threat against the Igbos in Lagos that if they do not vote for the APC in the governorship elections on Saturday they should be ready for the consequences and that if they don't vote for Ambode they should be ready to perish in the lagoon is ominous and unacceptable.

 "The truth is that we were threatened with ethnic cleansing and religious carnage in the north had Buhari not won the election on march 28th and had Jonathan not quickly conceded defeat and now our traditional supporters are being threatened in Lagos and in many other states.

 "Let two things be clearly understood. In as much as we all want peace in this country and in as much as Jonathan has graciously and quickly conceded defeat in the Presidential election, this does not mean that we are weak or powerless.

 "Let it be clearly understood by all and sundry that any attempt to kill or molest our supporters in the north, in the west or indeed in any other part of the country either before, during or after saturday's governorship elections or any attempt at ethnic or religious cleansing by the APC, their supporters or their friends and agents will be deemed unacceptable and will be met with defiance, contempt and resistance.

 "Enough of all these APC threats and all this rubbish. No-one is intimidated on our side and neither do we fear for the future because God is with us, He is faithful and He is in control. We want peace and we want harmony in this country but no-one or no group of people will be allowed to turn us or our supporters into slaves or give us sleepless nights.

 "The APC would do well to remember that they only won the presidential election by 2 million votes. The PDP got 12 million votes in that election which means that we have 12 million loyal foot soldiers and supporters in this country and that is no mean feat.

 "We are a strong party, we are confident for the future, we are ready for anything and most important of all we are ready for the polls on saturday. We take this opportunity to urge the PDP faithful in Lagos to go out and vote en masse for the PDP.

 "We urge them to vote for Jimi Agbaje and to free Lagos state from the shackles of darkness and oppression. We urge them to stand firm, to hold their heads up high and to do their very best.

 "We urge our supporters in Rivers state, Oyo state, Imo state, Plateau state, Kaduna state and indeed in all the states where elections will take place on saturday to do the same, to take the destiny of their respective states into their hands and to vote for the PDP candidates in the various elections.

 "What happened during the presidential election on March 28th was sad and unfortunate but we have accepted defeat and we wholeheartedly accept the will of the people of Nigeria. That does not however mean that we should close shop and not put up a good fight for Saturdays governorship elections.

 "This is the time to call on the party faithful to rise up. This is the time to rally our troops and to call on our footsoldiers and loyalists to come out in their millions and wipe away the sadness of march 28th by winning massively in saturdays governorship elections.

 "This is the time to prove to our detractors that despite their provocative utterances, their empty and boastful threats, their mocking words and their gratutious insults that the PDP is far from dead and is still very much alive.

 "Our party shall go from strength to strength despite the monumental challenges that lie ahead. Whether we win or lose on saturday is not the issue. The issue is that whatever anyone may say and whatever they may feel, the PDP is not going anywhere and neither shall we crumble and fade away. We are here for the long haul: we are here to stay."


 In what seems like a subtle disapproval of Oba Akiolu's threats to the Ndigbo in Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode said he would not be a governor to selected ethnic groups in the state but would stand for everyone in the state as governor.

In a statement released to journalists on Monday, Ambode said promised that every group in Lagos would be safe in his hands as governor adding that he would not discriminate against any religious or ethnic group if elected.

 "It is our Lagos and we must build it together.

 « In my acceptance speech after the primaries I made this note that I will be a governor for all and Lagos is safe in my hands. I want to build on the foundation of unity, peace and progress and development laid by my predecessors.

‎"And though tongue and tribe may differ, we stand in brotherhood in Lagos from the smallest ethnic groups to the major ones. We are all stakeholders," he said.


 In a bid to douse the tension created by the Oba's statement, the palace has explained what it said actually transpired at the event.

 In a statement signed by Chief Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose, the Opeluwa of Lagos, and made available to, the palace said: "last Sunday, all honorary Eze Ndigbos in Lagos paid a courtesy call to HRM Oba Akiolu. At the meeting the visitors praised the Oba for his fatherly support for and cooperation with Igbos in. Lagos. They assured him of their continued good neighbourliness with other tribes in Lagos and support everything that will further strengthen that harmony.

 "Oba Akiolu on his part acknowledged the enviable performance of Governor Fashola and his contribution to the growth of investments in Lagos. He gave the assurance that he is not disturbed or angry with South-East and South- South votes for President Jonathan as perceived by the Eze Ndigbos.

"The Obas thereafter called on the Igbos chiefs to show appreciation to Lagos State by supporting his candidate Mr. Ambode for continuity of excellence as they have earlier promised.

 "He assured them of his continued support and assistance where needed and the meeting ended with the traditional breaking of kola, alligator pepper, and bitter kola and pouring of libation on the ground.

 "It was within this context that the tradition of Lagos with regard to the lagoon came up. It was noted that whoever works against the throne and the interest and peaceful co-existence of Lagos would end up in the lagoon as per tradition.

 "Oba Akiolu stated further that the Igbo people have not betrayed the throne. Lagos has also not betrayed the Igbo people. Lagos has done so much to make the Igbos comfortable and to prosper. For this, we expect reciprocal respect and understanding. The Oba of Lagos prays that the Lagoon and the throne will continue to bless and protect all those who reside and visit Lagos.

 "Oba Akiolu is the father of all irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion. In Lagos, we have an old traditional proverb that relates to the Lagoon. The Lagoon is unique to Lagos. The proverb stresses the need for unity and understanding when you do business in an environment and in this case when you live and do business in Lagos.

 "Oba Akiolu prayed for peace for the land of Lagos and prosperity for all its inhabitants."


However, the All Peoples Congress in a statement signed by Joe Igbokwe, the state spokesperson of the party, the APC apologized and appealed to Ndigbo to allow peace reign, considering the longstanding relationship that has existed between Igbo and Yoruba since the inception of Nigeria.
“No human being is above mistakes,” Mr. Igbokwe said. “People can make mistakes and correct it thereafter. The Oba of Lagos can make a mistake and we believe that the statement credited to him was a mistake. If to err is human, we plead with Ndigbo to let the sleeping dog lie.

“After the March 28 2015 Presidential elections, Ndigbo in Lagos have been trooping into the Lagos APC fold in droves. They have pledged to throw their full weight behind the APC guber candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. The support was total and unprecedented. You can therefore imagine how we feel as a party when this incident came just few days to the governorship elections.”

“Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos is not a card-carrying member of APC. He is not a leader in APC. He does not speak for APC. He did not speak for Governor Fashola of Lagos State. He did not speak for our National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He did not speak for the incoming governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. His Royal Highness is at liberty to speak for himself and he spoke for himself only. Lagos APC appeals to Ndigbo not to take the statement as the position of the party in Lagos.”

“We passionately appeal to Ndigbo not to carry the statement credited to Oba Akiolu too far so as not to put a knife on things that have held us together for more than 50 years now. If out of annoyance you throw your cap away a mad man will take it and use it forever.”

“A lot is at stake in Lagos. Lagos has been fair to Ndigbo and Ndigbo have reciprocated by taking Lagos as their home no matter whose ox is gored. Lagos APC believes that Ndigbo will not burn the bridges because of this minor setback.

“Lagos APC has worked so hard with other Nigerians to enthrone a government at the centre and we cannot afford to throw all these gains away by allowing the mistakes of the last weekend to stand on our way to link Lagos effectively with the centre. Our own Oba Rilwan Akiolu’s slip of tongue should not be used as an excuse by Ndigbo to reverse these huge gains. Ndigbo should forgive and forget by voting APC en mass this coming Saturday.”