The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Ndigbo, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Oba of Lagos, Alhaji Rilwan Akiolu, to “retract and unconditionally apologise to Ndigbo” over his alleged death threat to Ndigbo living in Lagos should they fail to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Akinwumi Ambode, on April 11.
Apart from positing that democracy confers on the electorate, the freedom of choice, OYC said it considered the comments credited to Akiolu as “a despicable insult on the Igbo nation, home and abroad, least expected of a royal father in the rank of Oba of Lagos.”
The group called on security agencies to invite the Oba for questioning because of the grave dangers his current posture portends while lambasted the monarch for employing crude arm-twisting, obtaining by tricks tactics.
The monarch had reportedly threatened to make life unbearable for the Igbos in Lagos if they sabotage efforts being made to ensure that Ambode emerges as the next governor of the state.
Akiolu was said to have summoned all the Eze-Ndigbo in Lagos State to his palace yesterday and told them: “On Saturday, if anyone of you goes against Ambode, who I picked, that is your end. If it does not happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me.
“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.”
Reacting to the monarch’s outburst, OYC, in a statement issued this afternoon in Umuahia and endorsed by its National President, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, warned that “Igbo youths will not take this insult lightly, and unless he apologises within 48 hours he should know he is courting our wrath.”
OYC further warned that should anything happen to Ndigbo or their business interests in Lagos in the event of APC losing the Lagos governorship race, the Oba should be held responsible.
“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,” the group said.
“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,” it added.
Isiguzoro said “nobody no matter what he thinks he is, has the right to command Ndigbo anywhere on who to vote for in a democratic setting.”
He said that the unprintable comments credited to the Oba had only revealed his innate hatred for Ndigbo.
The Oba, according to him, “should be reminded that the economy of Lagos will collapse should Ndigbo decide to pull their investments from the commercial city.”
He said that “Ndigbo have remained the most persecuted , hated and marginalised tribe in Nigeria , yet the most enterprising and highest contributors to the growth of its economy, peace and unity.”
OYC asserted that the Igbo race needs commendation and not hatred for their ingenuity, versatility and presence in every part of the country, adding that God has destined Ndigbo to prosper in any part of the world, even in hostile environments.
The group, therefore, encouraged Ndigbo in Lagos and elsewhere to vote according to their conscience in the forthcoming polls without fear of intimidation.