By Eric Elezuo
Following unprovoked attacks meted on Lagosians of Igbo extraction on Saturday during the Presidential and National Assembly elections and subsequent threats to lives and property against them by some groups on the social media, a group, Ndigbo Lagos, has reacted.
In a letter endorsed by the President General, Gen. Obi Abel Umahi (Rtd) and the Deputy Director of Communication and Strategy, Mr. Charles Nwodo Jr, the group frowned at the attacks and threats, reminding all and sundry that Igbos are citizens of Nigeria with rights to live wherever they choose in Nigeria.
It further advised INEC to set another date in the nearest future for the repeat of elections in the affected areas.
It would be recalled that there were skirmishes of attacks on certain areas with high density of Igbos in Lagos by suspected thugs, who prevented the residents from voting, and where voting had already taken place, disrupted and materials including ballot boxes and papers were burnt.
Below is the press statement:
PRESS STATEMENT BY NDIGBO LAGOS ON THE VIO LENT ACTIVITIES AT SOME POLLING UNITS IN IGBO HIGH DENSITY AREAS IN LAGOS STATE DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS ON SATURDAY 23RD FEBRUARY 2019
We refer to the Presidential and National Assembly elections held nationwide on Saturday, 23rd February 2019 and the violence and disruption of voting at targeted locations in Lagos and state as follows.
1. We commend Lagosians generally for turning out to exercise their civic rights of electing our leaders during the Presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday.
2. We equally commend Ndigbo in Lagos in particular for their impressive turn out for the elections in response to our earlier call out notices through radio jingles, press conference and other means.
3. We got very credible reports that while voting was going on peacefully, there were sudden unprovoked, politically motivated and targeted violent attacks at various Igbo high density voting polling units across parts of Lagos State by some thugs armed with dangerous weapons. The affected areas includes but are not limited to, Mushin, Okota, FESTAC, Aguda and some parts of Ejigbo.
4. Consequently, the voters, mainly of Igbo extraction and the electoral officers scattered, some were injured and the voting materials were either set on fire or torn and scattered; that marked the end of voting in those areas, thus disenfranchising thousands of Igbos.
5. We, Ndigbo Lagos, want to remind all and sundry that Igbos are full blooded citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore are entitled to all rights and privileges conferred upon all citizens of this country by the constitution, irrespective of their place of domicile within Nigeria.
6. We, Ndigbo Lagos, therefore condemn the unwarranted, unprovoked and politically motivated targeted attacks on the Igbos; which was followed by threats of attacks on Igbos and their economic interests in Lagos.
7. We call upon the law enforcement authorities and INEC to identify and deal with the individuals involved in this electoral violence.
8. We invite INEC to immediately set a date for the conduct of repeat elections in the affected areas in accordance with the electoral law and guidelines to ensure that the votes of these disenfranchised eligible Nigerians count.
9. We equally call on the Law enforcement agencies to ensure adequate security coverage during the rerun election.
10. In the light of the threats on Igbos and their economic interests, we request the security agencies to adopt all necessary proactive and preventive measures to guard and
secure lives and properties of Igbos and all others in Lagos State.
11. We call upon Ndigbo in Lagos to remain calm, law abiding and go about their lawful businesses without let or hindrance, but with due respect and courtesies to the government and traditional institutions in their host communities across Lagos State.
12. Ndigbo Lagos hereby assure Igbos that we are monitoring the situation and are in close consultation and synergy with all relevant government agencies and non-governmental organisations in Lagos with a view to protecting the rights and interests of Ndigbo at this trying time and beyond.
13. We acknowledge with gratitude the messages of support, solidarity and assurance from various important organisations, such as Afenifere, at this time and look forward to the continuation of the excellent relationship between Ndigbo and our Yoruba brothers and sisters and other residents in Lagos State.
For Ndigbo Lagos:
Gen. Obi Abel Umahi (Rtd)
Mr. Charles Nwodo Jr
Deputy Director of Communication and Strategy